For parents, educators, older siblings, or anyone guiding a child through the stages of their learning process, it can be useful to know how best they learn. When you picture studying for exams or researching for projects, what strategies come to mind? Color-coding notes? Flashcards? Audiobooks or reading articles out loud? You or your child might not know which way works best or do all three, and that’s fine.
There are three different learning strategies within the Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) that could be helpful to any individual young, old, or in between: visual , auditory , and kinesthetic!
Children carry these learning strategies into high school or college. It can be fun for elementary and middle school students to take the MI test and discover new things about themselves.
What is the Theory of Multiple Intelligences?
Howard Gardner, an American developmental psychologist, developed the theory through the late 1970s to early ’80s.
The theory totals seven types of learning, but this post will focus on the three most overlooked: auditory, kinesthetic, and visual. The other four types are intrapersonal, interpersonal, logical-mathematical, and linguistic, which are readily integrated into a classroom curriculum. It is difficult to make auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning part of a teacher’s lesson plan because they are individual to each student.
Auditory learners retain concepts best when learning materials are spoken aloud. They like to hear words read aloud and annunciated, listen to music while working, and prefer a lecture over reading assignments that require visual focus.
To help an auditory learner hone their skills, have them make up song lyrics to correspond with what they’re learning, listen to wordless music or a favorite genre while working (have them test it out to see which works best), capture their intrigue with language patterns, and refer to audio lessons or readings (if possible).
Visual learners can be marked by young, enthused readers that move from picture books to chapter books comfortably, recall stories in photographic detail, and enjoy drawing or painting. Students typically sit at the front of the classroom and request to see a method (math problem or spelling) conducted before they try their hand at it.
To aid a visual learner, have them watch video tutorials, examine diagrams or handouts, use highlighters to color-code notes, make flashcards, create a non-distracting work environment, and use white boards to try out concepts.
Kinesthetic learners are characterized by learning through touch, movement, and motion. Children tend to prefer interactive books and museum displays, building 3D sets or clay models over 2D art, and holding items to understand them better.
To support a kinesthetic learner, purchase textured paper and pencils of different shapes and sizes, pattern blocks for math, and alphabet magnets or blocks for spelling comprehension; place them at a standing desk or a seat higher above the table’s surface to decrease fidgeting; and encourage finger-snapping or clapping while studying (so long as it’s not disruptive to others).
Can you be all three? How can I find out which way I learn best?
Of course! Most people are a combination of all three, with varying traits outweighing the others.
The test results will give you a percentage breakdown based on which letter you answered the most to the least (A, B, or C). It’s good for upper-grade elementary schoolers, middle schoolers, early high schoolers, or any adult dying to know how to better prepare themselves for their next presentation.
Understanding how you or your child learn most efficiently can be useful in a social, work, or school sphere and lead to deeper self-awareness. Make sure to ask your child or yourself what is working and what isn’t. By identifying learning strengths, weaknesses become easier to tackle.