Headstart for Life

If They Can Do It, Why Can’t I?

Posted on Monday, November 11, 2019 by 2 minutes

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to HeadStart For Life’s blog, Beyond Therapy!

In my previous blog entry, we discussed bringing math lessons out to the real world. Today, we will be discussing the different styles of learning and some ideas on what activities or materials to incorporate into lessons, especially Math.

Before we begin, may I ask you a favour? Think about your own experience as a student when you were in school. Did you like Math? Or did you prefer Science? Or History? I’m sure you had a subject that you preferred more than others. Now, can you remember why that subject was your favourite? Was it because of the subject itself? Or was it because of the teacher who taught it?

Personally, my favourite subject was Biology. And when I think deeper into why I liked this subject, I realised that it was because of the teaching style of my teacher back then. She taught concepts through storytelling and she gave life to the texts by drawing figures and pictures. For instance, on the topic of blood circulation, she told us to imagine a child (the blood cell) going on an adventure and she drew the human body as a map with veins and arteries as roads. That helped me to visualise the flow of blood circulation better than just memorising facts about it.

However, that method which worked for me might not have worked for my other classmates. Most likely because we have different learning styles. I only realised this after I became a special education teacher myself, when an effective method for one child may not necessarily work with another.

As they say, each child is unique and every student learns in their own preferred way. While some children’s strengths are reading or writing, others might learn more effectively through movement or hands-on activities. As caregivers and educators, we should spend time getting to know our children better to get an insight on how they learn best and what their learning styles are to help them learn most effectively.

In general, it is said that there are three learning styles:

Kid Blackboard Math

Photo credit: Rawpixel

Visual Learners

Visual learners learn most effectively when their sense of sight is engaged. They show affinity for visual materials such as books, pictures, drawings and texts. They often learn best through “seeing” or when they are shown how to do it before attempting it themselves.

If your child is a visual learner, incorporate visual materials in the lesson. You may use books, pictures and art materials to teach them concepts. For example:

  1. Drawing. Draw the number of items
  2. Colouring. Draw a line of shapes and get your child to colour them in a patterned order (e.g. blue… green… blue… green…)
  3. Connect the dots. Write numbers on the floor with sidewalk chalks and get your child to connect the dots in ascending/descending order
  4. Make a phone call. Write down a phone number and get your child to dial the number by tapping on the number keypad to boost number recall.

Photo Credit: Rawpixel
Photo Credit: Rawpixel

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners learn most effectively when their sense of hearing is engaged. They often learn best through “hearing” or when they are told or explained how to do it. Auditory learners often love music and remembers the lyrics to a song.

If your child is an auditory learner, incorporate audio materials in the lesson. You may use music, songs, beats or clapping. For example:

  1. Musical instruments. Learn about patterns through clapping/jumping/tapping an instrument on every 4 counts (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4! 5, 6, 7, 8! …)
  2. Songs and rhymes. Songs like 3 little monkeys jumping on the bed and 5 little ducks went out one day can help reinforce subtraction concepts

Photo Credit: Rawpixel
Photo Credit: Rawpixel

Tactile/Kinaesthetic Learners

Tactile and kinaesthetic learners learn most effectively when touch, movement and motion is engaged. They often learn best through touching things and moving around.

If your child is a tactile or kinaesthetic learner, incorporate movement activities such as games or manipulatives into the lesson. For instance:

  1. Hopscotch. Draw a line of squares on the floor and get your child to hop while counting the number of squares.
  2. Hide and seek. Hide a number of item in the room then ask your child to find and count them.
  3. Building blocks. Learning to add and subtract by stacking “adding” and “taking away” blocks from the stack.
  4. Shape/colour high-five. Paste shape cut-outs on the wall. Get your child to tap the shapes/colours in the correct sequence (e.g. square… circle… square… circle…)

It is also important to note that children may have a mix of more than one learning styles even though they generally tend to favour one learning style more than another. So, make sure to experiment and identify their preferences so you can provide a learning environment that will help your child “see”, “hear” or “feel” the concepts you are trying to teach.

At HeadStart for Life, we try to engage all of our children with the style or styles of learning most effective for them. With this blog post, we hope you can begin to do the same at home as well! All the best!



National Research Council. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school: Expanded edition. National Academies Press.

Understood Org. (n.d.). How to Help Your Child with Math, Retrieved from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differencesBlog Post/child-learning-disabilities/math-issues/how-to-help-your-child-with-math

NAEYC. (2014). Making math meaningful for young children. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/tyc/article/making-math-meaningful

NAEYC. (2010). Early childhood mathematics: Promoting good beginnings. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/psmath.pdf 

"All the information on this site is for educational purposes only and does not replace the assessment and intervention of a registered speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist or any other medical or education professional."

About Vivien

Vivien has been working with children for years. She is most keen on exploring interesting tools and methods to help children learn. She is a firm believer that children learn best through experience and play, thus she incorporates these strategies as much as she can in her sessions.

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