How to help your auditory learner

Auditory learners: tips and techniques
If he prefers reading aloud, is always talking to himself and provides a running commentary of everything he does, your child could be an auditory learner. So how can you tap into his strengths and boost his learning?
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What are learning styles?

Children learn in a variety of different ways, but some have a definite preference for a certain type of learning – or a learning style. The most widely known learning style theory was developed by Neil Fleming, a New Zealand teacher, in 2001. His VAK model says that children tend to fit into one of three learning styles: visual (learning by sight), auditory (learning by listening) or kinaesthetic (learning by moving and doing). It’s likely that your child uses elements of all three, but finding out if he has a natural inclination towards a particular type of learning could help him succeed.

What defines an auditory learner?

Auditory learners are people who need to hear or listen to a concept in order to understand it. They usually have a knack for learning by rote, with a knack for remembering names, dates and trivia. They’re good at explaining things to other children, but may find it harder to follow written instructions.

Is your child an auditory learner?

Often, the biggest indication that your child is an auditory learner is if he loves talking. Auditory learners tend to be real chatterboxes, and enjoy talking to themselves or providing a running commentary on what they’re doing. They like being read to, but may be less keen on reading themselves, and often continue to read out loud long after other children have mastered the art of reading silently. Frequently musical, they may sing, hum or whistle to themselves, and enjoy performing. They’re good at interpreting the expression and intonation in other people’s voices, but can be distracted by background noise.

Does auditory learning help with spelling and times tables?

If your child is an auditory learner, chances are he’ll find it a relative breeze to master his spellings and tables. Phonics teaching particularly suits auditory learners, as it breaks words down into their individual sounds; the ‘look, say, cover, write, check’ method of learning spellings also appeals, as saying the word out loud helps to reinforce the learning. Auditory learners also tend to do well at learning by rote, which can make times tables – and also learning song words or school play scripts – comparatively easy.

Top five learning strategies for auditory learners

  1. Encourage your child to read aloud to himself – or, in a classroom situation, to mouth the words silently – so that the information sinks in.
  2. When memorising information, get your child to repeat it over and over out loud, rather than trying to learn by looking at words or figures on the page.
  3. Encourage your child to ask his teacher to explain a task verbally, as well as or instead of relying on him reading the written instructions.
  4. Summarise the main points of learning verbally before starting to write them down. Small-group discussions are great for this, but in a quiet classroom, your child can say them to himself under his breath.
  5. Use repetition to remember key facts, or make up songs or riddles about them. Clapping or beating out a rhythm can also be helpful.

Helping your auditory learner at home

Homework is rarely a time of quiet for an auditory learner! Encourage him to talk to himself while he’s working: reading aloud and repeating facts can help him get to grips with his task. Ask questions about his work, and get him to tell you what he’s planning to write before he puts pen to paper. Use resources such as audiobooks and online videos to research topic work, and help him to learn spellings and times tables parrot fashion by reciting them out loud. For extended writing tasks, try recording your child talking about his ideas first, and then playing them back to him. Auditory learners also tend to like working in groups so they can share ideas, so consider asking a friend or sibling to join in with homework time.

Please note that the learning styles theory has recently been questioned by neuroscientists and educational experts and many teachers are moving towards the use of other, more evidence-based, methods in the classroom.