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Whole Brain Learning

Our brains translate everything around us and turn it into useful information, and we each have a learning style that works best for translating that information. Understanding a child’s learning style can aid in their ability to learn and also enhance their future abilities. According to Family Education, 20 to 30 percent of learners remember through hearing, 40 percent retain information visually, and the rest either have higher memory retention after writing something down or through real-life activities.


Whole-brain teaching is an instructional approach derived from neurolinguistic descriptions of the functions of the brain’s left and right hemispheres.

Basic Elements

Neurolinguistic findings about the brain’s language functions show that in the integrated brain, the functions of one hemisphere are immediately available to the other, producing a more balanced use of language. Whole-brain teaching emphasizes active learning, in which the learner makes connections that tap both hemispheres.

Another aspect of whole-brain teaching is managing the emotional climate, to reduce the “downshifting”–or primal thinking–that occurs during distress. To relax learners, instructors may offer clear, realistic predictions of barriers (such as, “Advancement may be sporadic”) and progress (such as, “Sooner or later, this will become easier”). Plus, instructors may try enhancing the learning experience with music or soothing colors.

In whole-brain learning, imaging is seen as the basis for comprehension. For this reason, learners are encouraged to visualize, draw, and use drama as they develop new ideas, in order to retain them. A reading teacher, for instance, might present new vocabulary words by building a story or skit that uses them–but doesn’t define them–in context. The teacher then might play music while reading the definitions, leaving time for listeners to draw images of the words. The teacher next might use guided meditation to build a relaxed state containing memories of success before the listeners hear the definitions again. And the learners might even act out the words’ meanings or construct stories of their own.

Each person is different and special in his or her own way. Part of what makes an individual unique is how she learns and discovers new things. We use our senses to understand the world around us, and each of us finds one sense to be stronger in that assessment than another. Different learning styles are all about the way learning is approached and optimized individually.

Learning Styles and Children

Learning styles can be defined as an individual’s unique approach to learning based on strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Once a person connects with a certain style of learning, it provides the opportunity to tap into the brain and learning. Here are three of the most common styles of learning – auditory, visual, and kinetic.                                

Types of Learning Styles

There are three learning stylesvisual, auditory, and kinesthetic and tactile. Kids that enjoy reading, are organized, and notice details are considered visual learners. Those that have strong speaking and language skills, are musically talented, and easily pick up new languages are auditory learners. Children that enjoy acting things out or doing physical activities, using their whole bodies while explaining things, and enjoy writing are tactile-kinesthetic learners. Picking up on clues from kids helps to identify their learning style, which allows parents and educators to assist with their whole brain learning.

Visual Learners

Visual learners like having information presented to them in an eye-catching way, have strong visualization skills, and to see the “big picture.” Enjoy a fun activity with visual learners encouraging their language and reading skills. Tie the activity into the child’s homework by using vocabulary or spelling words for an upcoming test. Within the classroom, educators can include charts, diagrams, and other visual aides to help the visual learner see the big-picture and understand new concepts.

Visual Approaches

Help the child create a list of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and pronouns to use for the activity. If they have a list of vocabulary or spelling words they need to memorize for school, they can be added to the list. Kids can select a color for each type of word and then write them onto flashcards using the coordinating color for each word group (green for nouns).

Have the child place the cards in stacks according to color/type.

Discuss with the child that they will be creating a visual language story using the words by placing them into sentences and a finished story. This encourages visual learners to see the big picture and understand the final outcome of the activity.

Once the child has begun forming sentences, he can arrange them to form a story, working until all the words have been used.

Tap into his auditory and kinesthetic/tactile learning, and his active processors, by having him read the story out loud while acting it out.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners enjoy listening and retain higher amounts of information when things are explained in detail. According to Shannon Hutton, M.Ed, M.P.A, auditory learners might often talk to themselves, enjoy explaining things to others, and have difficulty staying quiet for extended amounts of time. Teachers can aide in learning by adding extra auditory interest by using voice fluctuations during lectures, reading directions, and using verbal clues often.

Auditory Approaches

Tap into an auditory learner’s desire to talk and talk by doing an activity that encourages his language and listening skills, and provides tasty results!

Discuss with the child what his favorite food is. Encourage him to tell you all the reasons why he likes the food, from how it tastes to how it feels in his mouth.

Help the child find a recipe for making his favorite food online or in a cookbook from the local library or found in the house. Create a copy of the recipe to use for the activity.

Invite the child to read the recipe out loud, encouraging his auditory learning style to kick into gear.

While he’s reading the recipe encourage him to circle his favorite words to say using a colorful marker.

Encourage him to measure the ingredients and assist with completing the recipe, all while describing the process.

Before sharing the finished treat with others, offer the child a pencil and paper and invite him to write about his cooking experience, encouraging his auditory learning style to work with his tactile-kinesthetic skills, along with creating an illustration to encourage his visual abilities.

Invite the child to share his finished treat with others along with explaining how the item was made and what he enjoyed about the experience.

Tactile-Kinesthetic Learners

Kids that are always on the move, ready to try things that involve movement, and are often on the move themselves are considered kinesthetic or tactile learners. Tactile-kinesthetic learners are often labeled as challenging students due to their desire to be active, when in fact they are just children that need movement in order to learn. Encourage a tactile-kinesthetic child’s learning through playing a game with learning points, such as vocabulary words or important historical dates,  that will result in memory retention and fun had by all! Kinetic learners are active, which is sometimes misunderstood within the classroom. Offer hands-on activities within the educational environment to provide the kinetic learner the opportunity to learn while doing.

Tactile-Kinesthetic Learners Approaches

Select the items that the child is interested in remembering and write them out on flashcards. Vocabulary words work great for this game.

Once the child has finished writing out the flashcards, invite him to read through the cards out loud along with writing the words in the air or on the surface of a table with his fingertip, encouraging his brain to retain the information. On the other side of each card he can write, “act,” “draw,” or “explain.”

Have the child to take a short break before beginning the game, allowing him to come back ready to focus.

Gather other materials needed to play the game, such as a notebook and pencils or markers.

Invite him to find friends and family to play the game and then mix up the cards and select one to use. Now he must either act out, draw, or explain the word without saying it, until someone guesses the word.

Continue playing the game, allowing each player to take a turn, until all the cards have been used. If he’s having a hard time sitting while others are taking their turns, encourage him to select one spot in the room that he can either jump in place or sit in different positions without disturbing the other players.

Understanding children’s learning styles offers wonderful knowledge on how to excel in learning without causing frustration. Doing exciting learning style based activities with kids encourages bonding and learning! 

Learning Styles

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