Personal Development and Learning Styles

It’s important to learn to recognize your teen’s learning style to be better equipped to help him or her.

I suspect that many of you can empathize with this experience: throughout my childhood, I often felt adrift. Despite earning respectable grades, I struggled in some key areas. My creative thought and communication skills were terrific and that carried me through most of my classes. But when it came to the more analytical areas like math, chemistry, and the technical aspects of English, I was LOST.

When my SAT scores came in, my High School counselor didn’t have a lot of encouragement. He said I probably wouldn’t be accepted to college and might not even graduate. Fortunately, I didn’t take his advice to heart because sometimes students will give up when they hear news like this. In the end, I did graduate just fine and was even accepted to college.

During my education classes, I took a course on learning styles and suddenly everything clicked into place. I am a visual learner and I was trying to learn things by just listening to the lectures. I finally understood how I needed to learn!

I started learning how to take better notes and focus more on the written material in the textbooks. Once I understood why I was struggling to retain auditory information, I became more confident and my grades started to improve. I ended up graduating with honors.

During my Master’s, I took more courses on learning styles and I have continued to study and teach learning styles to this day. As part of my continuing education, I just completed a Life Coaching certificate.

In today’s educational landscape, we’re inundated with information, yet rarely shown how to learn EFFECTIVELY according to our unique styles of processing information. Given that your child will likely have many different teachers during their school years, it’s not realistic to expect the teacher to adapt to each student. Instead, we need to teach your student how to adapt to each situation.

That’s where I can help. Through a series of specialized assessments, I help your teen identify their dominant learning mode – be it right-brained or left, visual, auditory, or kinesthetic, as well as their personality type. This information will help us create a strategy for success specifically for your kid.

Think of it as learning to speak your child’s language. Armed with this insight, we can tailor a personalized plan to help them understand their strengths and weaknesses. Then we can cultivate the skills that will serve as their academic superpowers, propelling them towards success.

We encourage parents to participate in this process too. Your own learning style might be at odds with your child’s style, so this will enable you to understand why techniques that were helpful for you may be completely wrong for your child. This will enhance communication within the family and foster a supportive environment for academic growth.

Learning styles

Examples of Learning Styles

As you go through these examples, you can probably identify your child’s basic learning style, but I test for a number of different things in the assessment process, and it’s fairly rare the someone will fit neatly into a particular category. Most people are a mix of several different learning styles.

Are you a lion, golden retriever, beaver, or an otter?

Smalley and Trent Personality Type Test – later adapted into the DISC Model

LIONS – Are natural leaders, so they like to be in charge. They tend to have a strong sense of responsibility and are good decision-makers. Lions can be competitive and like to be first. They don’t mind a challenge, but get discouraged if they don’t achieve their goals.

GOLDEN RETRIEVERS – Just like this fun-loving and easy-going dog breed, these folks are the peace makers, and generally can get along with anyone. They tend to be very loyal and make great team players. They are smart, but easily distracted – SQUIRREL. They can also be sensitive to criticism because relationships are very important to them.

OTTERS – As you might guess, otters are fun-loving and can be the “life of the party”. They can be spontaneous and are generally bright and happy people. Buckling down to serious study time is a struggle for an otter, so they need encouragement and frequent activity breaks to release bottled up energy. They like to work quickly and sloppy work is frequently the result.

BEAVERS – These folks like structure and are very invested in doing things “right” even if it takes them a while. They’re very logical and calculated in their thinking. Typically good in math and science, but struggle with creative tasks. They can be perfectionists and overly critical of their work.

Left Brain/Right Brain Thinkers

This method of thinking has been well-known for decades. Neither type is better or worse than the other, but they do view the world quite differently. And the usually is some overlap between the two types. It can create some interesting conflicts if the parents are strongly left brained, but dealing with a right-brained child – or vice versa.

LEFT BRAIN – It’s generally understood that left brain thinkers are very analytical, orderly, and verbal. They tend to see things in terms of black and white with very little grey.

RIGHT BRAIN – On the other hand, right brain types are artistic, visual, creative, and tend to think outside the box. They don’t really think black and white, but every color imaginable.

Learning Modalities

This method has been around since the 70’s and is a popular way to identify the way people take in and process information.

Visual – 65% of the population are visual learners. They like videos, graphs, diagrams, and flashcards, or simply written information.

Auditory – 30% of the population are auditory learners. They learn best by hearing a lecture, a podcast, or other verbal means of communication.

Kinesthetic – 5% of the population. They like hands-on learning and often do well as computer programmers, athletes, musicians, or craftsmen.

The Result

The result can be a complete picture of your child’s learning styles. For example – I am a visual learner followed by kinesthetic. I’m slightly left-brained, and I lead with Golden Retriever and Lion with just enough Otter to keep things fun! So now I fully understand what I need to do to absorb important information and process it properly.