Editor's note: Since so many of our readers are also riding instructors or deal with the public, we thought this series from Michigan State University would be useful in helping you better communicate. We also will run their articles on kinesthetic and visual learners.
We retain 10 percent of what we see, 30-40 percent of what we see and hear, and 90 percent of what we see, hear and do. Adults and children all have a great capacity to learn new skills and enjoy learning in a variety of settings; however, we all have a preferred manner in which we are most comfortable learning. There are three primary styles of learning that I will highlight in this article series: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. If you are teaching a co-worker a new skill, your children at home, running a 4-H meeting, training fellow volunteers or teaching your neighbor to knit, it will be beneficial to understand a little about each of these learning styles.
The auditory learner is typically a good listener who is able to pick things up when they hear them and benefits from hearing lectures, pod casts, brainstorming and participating in discussions. They are great at hearing and picking up on the tone and inflection in which things are said, hearing what others may simply not. Many times, these are participants who talk through projects with you and desire verbal input. They think best out loud and can typically follow oral directions. Written information may have little appeal to them, so they may read it out loud to digest it fully.
If this sounds familiar to you, you may be an auditory learner. Be proud of who you are, but realize everyone else is not like you and don’t be afraid to ask for an explanation or find a friend to talk it out with.
How can you help an auditory learner retain information for a test? Be clever, have fun and create a jingle, poem, ditty or silly way to say it. As you are singing along, the words will commit to memory and before you know it, all the bones are in place; just like the 'Dem Bones' song.
Another great tip: Read out loud so it makes sense. It doesn’t matter if you read it yourself or if you hear someone else read it. Just the practice of hearing it can make all the difference to an auditory learner. They have the ability to recall what they have heard; some compare it to having a tape recorder in their head. Help your child by offering to read the science lesson to them or providing them a space to talk to themselves while they study so they are not disturbing their sibling who might need complete silence to study. It's amazing how often we do not offer these opportunities to those around us.
Let me be clear that this is not child’s play. Many corporate trainers use this method, they just pick a different tune or gimmick and help their clients achieve the same feeling of success. So take it to heart and put those ears to work, picking up the best that sound has to offer so you can soar as a student, parent, employee or volunteer.
It’s not how we remember, but that we remember, that is important in this world. Learning should be fun, regardless of our age. Even if this helps 10 of our members learn how the robot works for the robotics competition, or one child get through their spelling test, we have found success. So be creative, have fun and help your child succeed.
Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development programs utilize the experiential learning model to teach volunteers and members a variety of skills in all project area in communities across this state. We understand that to retain information and really learn, it is best to ensure the content is being applied to real life. Learners need to be able to see the connection between what they are learning at the meeting, in the classroom, textbook, lab or lecture and their life every day. When we know why it matters and how we can use the information, we will remember it. As the school year begins, parents can help their children make these important connections as well as bring subjects to life in their homes. Be sure to read the rest of the series to learn more about the other learning styles and to get helpful tips to bring learning to life.
If you find you want to change the lives of young people in your community and become a volunteer, or get your child involved as a 4-H member, contact your local MSU Extension office to begin your journey today.