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Accommodating Different Learning Styles: 3 Tips to Guide You

Student and different learning styles

As educators, we know all students have different learning styles. Some students are auditory learners, some are kinesthetic learners, and some are visual learners. The more engaged a student is in their learning, the more likely he or she is to succeed in the classroom. As an educator, the first step is to have the knowledge and understanding of the various learning styles and then provide your students with a variety of learning experiences to meet their individual needs. Here are three tips to guide you.

Know the Different Learning Styles in Your Class

Take a moment and visualize an ordinary kindergarten classroom. More than likely, some students are focused on the content and others are looking around, fidgeting with their clothes, or talking to a friend about what's for lunch. I've learned that it can be hard to get a whole classroom of kindergartners engaged in a lesson, asking questions, discussing, and excited to participate because students learn in different ways. Some students need to move around, some need visuals, and some may need a catchy song or phrase to learn the content.

As a kindergarten teacher, I'm constantly aware of how I'm presenting the kindergarten curriculum. My students have various learning abilities and some have special education needs. In order for them to meet the learning goals and/or objectives of each lesson, I must constantly be aware of how the information is presented. At the beginning of the year, I always spend the first two weeks of school getting to know my students. This helps me understand their interests, learning styles, and needs in order to create meaningful, highly engaging lessons.

Provide an Uncommon Experience

Dave Burgess, the author of Teach Like a Pirate, writes, "Provide an uncommon experience for your students and they will reward you with an uncommon effort and attitude." As a kindergarten teacher, I follow this advice when it comes to meeting the various learning styles of my students. For example, I was able to cater to the different learning styles of my students by creating an uncommon experience and transforming my classroom into a spy headquarters. In this lesson, my students were actively engaged in reviewing skills that were previously taught at the beginning of the year. All the skills in this lesson were aligned with our reading and math curriculum. These concepts included: beginning sounds, uppercase to lowercase matching, and number identification using mathematical concepts like tally marks, base ten blocks, fingers, and ten frames.

Let Them Work at Their Own Pace and Use a Multisensory Approach

I've learned that regardless of their learning style, students learn best when you give them the freedom to work at their own pace and provide a number of hands-on, multisensory activities. This high level of engagement will help hold their attention and keep them focused on the task at hand—even if there are distractions.

I try to plan activities that are well-suited for auditory, kinesthetic, and visual learners. During our spy headquarters activity, for instance, students were able to freely move around the room from activity to activity while using various colors and songs to complete a series of reading and mathematics activities. This allowed them to work at their own pace and receive any necessary one-on-one support to meet their learning needs.

The next time you plan a lesson or activity for your students, take these helpful tips and tricks into consideration when thinking about the different learning styles in your classroom. Start by setting aside time to really understand the different learning needs of your students. Then foster engagement by providing a unique experience, allowing them plenty of time to complete activities, and taking a multisensory approach.