You can't figure it out by observing their behavior while doing schoolwork.
It's so much easier to identify their learning style by observing their "Free Play".
Your child is his or her "true self" when at play. Personality shines through when there are no rules guiding his or her activities.
I've found that by watching my children plays with Legos I can discover a lot about each child's learning style!
I've found that most kids have a dominant learning style.
There are five of these styles or 'types' of learners.
The FIVE Learning Styles include Detectives, Creators, Followers, Friend Learners, and Explorers.
Did you know that mainstream education most commonly pushes children towards only one of these personalities? The traditional educational mold wants to make them into a Follower.
It should be no surprise that many kids fight with these learning methods because they can't understand or enjoy such a style of learning. Once you understand how your child naturally relates to learning, you can give them the right tools, the right education, and the most efficient help.
To learn what brings your child joy and interest, all you need to do is watch him or her play. When he is learning something new, what motivates him to dig deeper?
It is hard to discover a child's learning language by the way they approach their school work. Why? Most schoolwork is geared toward one type of learner, the Follower. When something is only geared towards one type of learner, they will have little freedom to allow their other intuitions to shine.
I have found that Legos give kids freedom to be who they were meant to be. You should be able to really see their true colors shine when they play with them, sort them, collect them, and build with them.
I will explain each of the learning languages that I have observed in homeschooled children, because I have ten children of my own, and have worked with thousands of homeschoolers who are gifted or have learning challenges over the past 10 years.
If your child is in school, or your homeschooling methods have been used to make the child into a Follower, you may need to remember what they were like when they were 3 to 5 years old. It's not a bad thing to be a Follower, if you are a Follower in your heart. Followers actually enjoy school, but if your child resists normal schoolwork, he might speak one of the other 4 learning languages.
I call it a "learning language," because we often only understand our own language, or the one we grew up with. We are all parenting unique children with unique needs, and we need to seek to understand how each child learns best. Once we learn their language we can change the way we teach them and we will be able to see and appreciate their amazing abilities.
The Five Types of Learners
They are full of questions and love to research. They love libraries, computers, mysteries and quests. They take things apart. They want answers, they want to know "WHAT" happened and "WHAT" things are made of. They ask a lot of questions and spend a lot of time digging deep.
Detectives are serious about their Legos. They know exactly what sets they want, they have collections, they keep the boxes and the instructions in a safe place. When they start working on a kit they will not want to be interrupted. The world ends when a piece is lost. They like to display their completed work in a special place and want it to look exactly like it does on the box. They want or keep everything as organized as possible. They may sort all the spare parts into small boxes, or keep everything sorted according to the kit. Everyone in the house should know not to touch their Legos.
They may want to know everything they can about a particular topic and may have one dominating interest for months or even years. Find out what topics the Detective wants to study and encourage them to get the books, tools and resources they need to study every detail. These students enjoy science projects. I have found that they are often interested in wildlife, cats, reptiles and dinosaurs.
They may be very protective of their knowledge and not want to open up about what they are researching, it can be very personal. On the other hand, they may be very proud of their knowledge, to the point that it is all they talk about.
They often know what they want to be when they grow up by the time they are seven or eight, so be sure to help them learn everything they want to know about that career. Be willing to do whatever you can to help the child immerse in the subjects they want to study. They are capable of becoming an expert at a young age.
Many kids with Asperger's are also Detectives.
These are the kids that are always doing something inventive, artistic or new. They want to figure out "HOW" to do things and how things are made. They are hands-on learners, and do everything in their own way. They learn best when they have freedom to be creative. They can be messy, active, and innovative. Sometimes they will disappear into their own world only to appear later to show you their new invention or artwork. They have vast imaginations, and often think in pictures. They may be interested in taming or training animals. They think outside the box, and are not interested in doing anything without visible results.
When creators play with Legos they tend to come up with their own amazing designs. They may start to build something from a kit, but by the time they finish they have added so many new features that it looks nothing like the picture on the box. They have a crazy way of organizing their Legos, they may sort by type, color, or size into lots of small containers, only to end up dumping everything out 30 minutes later in search of something they need. They enjoy have a workspace where they can spread everything out, their Lego table may look like a war zone, but take a second look and you will see a masterpiece rising from the chaos.
They learn best when they are making something, or working with their hands. They learn with the goal of doing something with the knowledge immediately. They love watching tutorials, performances and live demonstrations and they copy what they have learned adding their own innovative ideas to the project. They love the arts, and may be good at sports, music or dancing. They often learn to read later than others, but are very talented!
Kids with Dyslexia are often amazing Creators.
They learn by following instructions, copying, watching the teacher or parent and doing what they are told. They are little scholars. They are the kids that like recipes, kits, desks and workbooks. They tend to do well in a classroom setting. Teachers love them. They want to follow the instructions! They are eager to learn for the sake of pleasing the people they love and respect. They are not likely to ask "Why do I need to learn this?" They just want to pass the test. They focus on the process of learning more than the results or product. This child just wants a good grade, and approval. A good score is enough of a motivation to do well in school. They don't need to actually accomplish something more to be happy. They make good students and good employees.
When Followers play with Legos, they will take their time to follow the instructions, the love building kits, and may build the same kit over and over. They may need some help to understand how to put things together, and love watching other people build things. Sometimes they can’t imagine making anything else with the same parts that are used for one of the kits. They want the kits to look like it does in the picture, and once they learn to use the instructions they really enjoy the process of building, and showing off the finished work.
Followers may become very discouraged when they fail to get a good grade or pass a test. They want to please. They may not naturally "think outside the box". They like working in a quiet setting but are often content in a classroom setting. They are interested in time, history, numbers, lists, scores, interesting literature, and charts. They may be very good at math and reading. They often go with the flow, and may seem to have no serious interests, you will need to help them to develop real skills that they will need in the world. They are clock watchers. They want to know what time it is. They want to know "WHEN" something happened or when something will happen in the future. They are planners.
"Read to me!" They want to do things together and they learn best when having fun. They like to have a lot of conversation. Learning is very social. They are very interested in people and want to know "WHO" did this or that. They like to snack, chat and talk about what they are learning, and they tend to enjoy watching "educational shows" with friends and family.
When Friends play with Legos they are very social about it. They will give the little people names, families, pets, and homes. The little people are the focus of their play. They enjoy role playing, making up stories, and they love involving friends in their play. They love playing with someone who likes to do the building so they can get on with playing with the finished items. They may want mom or dad to build it all, so they can have everything ready for play. They love to set up towns, cities, stores and homes.
Friends enjoy taking lessons and respond well to one on one instruction from someone they admire. They like social studies, but may not call it that, they are just very curious about people. They enjoy pets. The enjoy teaching others about what they are learning. They can't focus long on tasks if they are working alone. Their learning will look quite a lot like their play. They learn best by doing projects together and reading together. They want to share what they are learning and care about relationships.
They want to go somewhere and do something. They learn best through experience and discovery. They are full of ideas. The may be impulsive and willing to take risks. They want to know "WHERE" to go and what to do. They often want a dog or horse as a pet, so they can go places with their animal.They love zoos, parks, caves, stores, museums and just want to go places with you. It's easy to make "everything educational" with these kids. These kids are adventurous and want freedom to do things their own way. They want to take charge and like to lead. They crave NEW experiences.
Explorers love Legos and always want a new set. Their Legos are all over the place. In the yard, on the floor, in the bath, they take their Lego creations on adventures. They love making things with wheels, and love transportation oriented kits. The may build something from a kit, and then lose half the set. There is a good chance that the kit is never finished unless someone helps, because they were only interested in a certain part of the kit, not the whole thing. Everything eventually ends up in a big bin, after mom sees to it that it all gets cleaned up.
Geography and Travel are good subjects for these students - if they actually get to go somewhere or plan a trip. They are often interested in many different things and can quickly move from one subject to another. If life isn't interesting enough for them, they will get sucked into video games and TV to satisfy their craving for adventure. Find out what topics the Explorer wants to learn about, and create a learning plan based on their interests.
Be ready to move on to the next thing when the Explorer wants to learn something new. Learning lots of new things brings the Explorer so much joy. Explorers who are forced to learn like Followers will often show symptoms of ADHD.
Don't expect to see just one learning style!
Is your child have a combination of TWO learning styles?
In the same way that yellow and blue make green - A combination of two learning languages make a whole new one!
For example, a Follower and an Explorer make a Navigator.
A Creator and Follower might make a Designer.