Learning style
Methods specific to students’ individual learning styles can be used at school to help them retain information. (Green Shoot Media photo)

There are well more than 70 different learning styles, according to Vanderbilt University, and an entire industry has grown up around helping people identify and understand how they learn best. Most of these learning styles are based on three main categories, according to the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency: visual, auditory and tactile.

Many people learn using a combination of these styles, but knowing which style is most effective for your child can help you maximize their learning at home and at school.

The PHEAA offers a 20-question quiz to help visitors to its website understand their learning style. The result is a breakdown by percentage for how well you are likely to learn using each style — for example, 50 percent visual, 30 percent auditory and 20 percent tactile.

What Each 
Style Means

Understanding each learning style is the first step to understanding how to put the information to work for students.

• Visual: Visual learners tend to learn by reading or seeing pictures, according to the PHEAA. They remember information by creating mental pictures of the information.

• Auditory: Auditory learners learn and remember information best by hearing and speaking. They prefer spoken directions to written ones and enjoy reading out loud.

• Tactile: Tactile learners learn and recall information through touching and physical activity. These hands-on learners like to use their hands to build, move, touch and create.

Why It Matters

Once you know your child’s learning style, you might be able to suggest methods he or she can use at school to best learn and retain information. Keep in mind that the time and resource constraints in the classroom might prevent your child from being able to implement some strategies all the time, but keeping them in mind and using them when possible can help students hone their learning and studying habits.

The PHEAA offers the following tips for each style of learning:


• Sit near the front of the classroom.

• Have your eyesight checked on a regular basis.

• Use flashcards to learn new words.

• Try to visualize things that you hear or things that are read to you.

• Write down key words, ideas or instructions.

• Draw pictures to help explain new concepts and then explain the pictures.

• Color-code things.

• Avoid distractions during study times.


• Sit where you can hear.

• Have your hearing checked on a regular basis.

• Use flashcards to learn new words; read them out loud.

• Read stories, assignments or directions out loud.

• Record yourself spelling words and then listen to the recording.

• Have test questions read to you out loud.

• Study new material by reading it out loud.


• Participate in activities that involve touching, building, moving or drawing.

• Do lots of hands-on activities such as completing art projects, taking walks or acting out stories.

• It’s OK to chew gum, walk around or rock in a chair while reading or studying.

• Use flashcards and arrange them in groups to show relationships between ideas.

• Trace words with your finger to learn spelling (finger spelling).

• Take frequent breaks during reading or studying periods (frequent, but not long).

• It’s OK to tap a pencil, shake your foot or hold on to something while learning.

• Use a computer to reinforce learning through the sense of touch.