You may never have given any thought to learning styles until recently if your child was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder or APD.
If so, you learned that everyone learns difficult new information in one of three ways – auditory by hearing, visual by seeing, and kinesthetic by participating in an activity.
Information on learning styles became popular when Rita and Kenneth Dunn discovered that when students focused on learning information the way their brain preferred to learn it, and the learning style presented by the teacher matched the students’ learning style, their grades improved after only six weeks.
Rita Dunn is a Professor in Administration and Instructional Leadership at St. John’s University in New York. The learning styles concept is utilized worldwide now, as Dunn started her research in 1980 and has had plenty of time to refine the concept and also back the idea with research studies.
However, most schools still haven’t adopted the learning styles method – and that means that if your child is a visual or tactile learner (needs hands-on activity to learn), then he or she is in trouble once setting foot into the classroom.
What Makes the Most Sense about the Learning Styles Concept
Let’s think about the learning style concept in a different way, considering which came first – auditory learning, visual learning or kinesthetic learning. Is there a relationship between the three?
Before a child can read, how is he processing information? How is he learning language? It’s really through hearing. The auditory system wins and is used predominantly. He hears his parents make sounds and speak words, and he associates those words with what is happening. He doesn’t know how to read or even identify the alphabet. He can’t touch a word and he can’t touch most of the things his parents are discussing. The whole process of learning is primarily dependent on auditory processing early in life.
If a child has difficulty with auditory processing, he’s at a distinct disadvantage. The teacher will deliver new knowledge to learn by lecturing and class discussions. If the child has an auditory processing disorder, he can’t hear the differences between sounds in words spoken in class. His brain doesn’t recognize and interpret sounds the way other children without the disorder do.
Even if there is no background noise in the classroom, the auditory processing that occurs between the ears and the brain could still be inadequate. That means your child can’t follow directions because he can’t hear them. He can’t follow conversations and understand what is being said. Auditory processing disorder affects about 5% of all children.
A child’s brain will try to cope with the deficit by switching learning styles to visual or kinesthetic. It’s entirely possible that a child who has a learning style of visual or tactile is a child that had to make the switch in his brain to cope. He was struggling to process language due to faulty auditory processing.
Thus, the answer is to go after the direct cause of the problem. Change the auditory processing by improving it so the deficit is corrected and then watch your child blossom.
Learn more about the relationship between auditory processing disorder and learning.