visual, auditory and hands-on learners

medieval banquet 011There’s a “great debate” whether different styles of learning even exist. Part of the debate is that if they do exist should they be catered to, and should we strengthen the weaker modality instead of teaching to the stronger.

Two of the precious high school girls I teach and I were talking the other day. I asked them if they thought that people learned best in different ways. We tossed around the idea of visual, auditory, and hands-on learning. Right away, they both said that, of course, they could clearly see that it was easier and more natural for them to remember information in a certain way. They could recognize that there was a way they learn best. It didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the way they were taught, but how they tended to best absorb the information. For example, that week all three of us had been to church and heard a sermon. Two of us realized that if we didn’t take notes we would forget the message almost immediately.

So observe your children and ask them questions about how they feel they learn best. Visual people learn best by observing, reading, and picturing material. Auditory people learn best by listening and talking about what they learned. Kinesthetic, or hands-on, people learn best by moving and doing something with the information. Unit studies are a great way to incorporate all learning styles. When our boys were younger, we created fun units, one about ancient Egypt and another about medieval times. (more about those in a later post!)

All of this doesn’t necessarily need to change the way you teach, but it might help you come up with better ways for your students to learn.

Here are some ideas that may help:


  • Take notes using an outline or bullet points
  • Use flashcards to learn new words.
  • Write down key words, ideas, or instructions
  • Draw pictures of new concepts
  • Create graphic organizers like diagrams and charts
  • Read books, journals, magazines
  • Highlight key words and concepts in notes and books
  • Draw arrows, pictures, symbols on your notes
  • Review information by rewriting it


  • Create flashcards and read them aloud
  • Read stories, assignments, or directions out loud
  • Record yourself spelling words and then listen to them
  • Have test questions read to you out loud
  • Study new material by reading it out loud
  • Listen to books
  • Use other people to quiz you
  • Participate in small group discussions
  • Talk it out to someone or just yourself
  • Do math problems aloud, explaining the steps
  • Create jingles or songs to remember information
  • Sound out spelling words syllable by syllable


  • Do activities that involve touching, building, moving, or drawing.
  • Do hands-on activities like art projects, acting out
  • Chew gum, walk, or rock while reading or studying.
  • Use flashcards and arrange in groups to show relationships
  • Trace words with your finger to learn spelling (finger spelling)
  • Tap a pencil, shake your foot, or hold something
  • Close your eyes and “write” information in the air
  • Use concrete objects to help understand math
  • Arrange letter tiles to spell difficult words
  • Recreate experiments and projects



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