Do You Know Your Child’s Sensory Learning Strength???

Hello everyone, and happy September! My blog topic today is one that I am quite passionate about and I hope it will be helpful to you. Often I hear parents say…

  • I wish my child would listen more in school and at home.
  • Why is my child so easily distracted?  
  • Why can’t s/he follow simple directions and do what s/he’s supposed to do? 
  • All the other kids seem to get it, why doesn’t mine?
  • I want my child to be more responsible and care about the works that s/he does.
  • How can I help him/her to focus and stop procrastinating? 
  • The teacher says s/he’s too fidgety, and can’t/won’t sit still…

…and on and on and on.

Well first of all, depending on the age of your child, it’s SO important that you read about and know the developmental growth pattern of your child before any unreasonable demands or expectations are made.  

Remember, as it’s commonly said, the attention span of an elementary school child is between five and twelve minutes, depending on their age and grade. Their general interest, the challenging nature of the task, and how complex it is, also determine how long that child can pay attention. If they’re being shown something new and it’s highly complex and very hard to follow, they will not be attentive for long, they may even get overloaded. In fact, if the task or the new information is not interesting or challenging enough, that also can lower attention span. 

So this being true, isn’t it only natural that your child will be fidgety, distracted and unfocused at times???

What can you do to help your child…and yourself in the process? 

Well, you can first start by looking at the different ways a child learns.

As human beings we have five main senses: Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste
and Touch.

However, we use three of those senses most often in our daily learning and communicating; they are, Sight, Hearing and Touch

Of those three senses, most of us are usually stronger in one, and sometimes two, making us either, Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic learners.

So back to the title of this blog; Do you know your child’s
sensory strength?

Can you imagine how helpful this information could be to both YOU and your child’s teacher? Well as a veteran teacher of 13 years, let me answer that one; it would be INVALUABLE! Yes, just knowing this little tidbit could help a teacher out immensely and simultaneously put you, the parent, into more of a proactive position.

I mean really, if parents take responsibility to discover how their children learn best, you can then work together with, and help support your teachers in a way that will promote success for all, and can make learning more fun!

All teachers learn in school that every child is UNIQUE, and that each child learns in his or her own way and at his or her own pace.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that if a teacher is given this information in the beginning of the year that she or he needs to write 28 different and unique lesson plans for the students, I’m simply suggesting that knowing in advance that each student will come into the classroom having a sensory learning strength that is either Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic, can be very helpful for the teacher when it comes time to creating lesson plans; it’s much easier to modify one lesson than to write three seperate ones. This will also really demonstrate to your child’s teacher that you are invested in their learning.

Now for some examples…

Let’s say your child is a visual learner; in this case he or she will need to SEE the assignment in a visual form like in pictures, maps, videos, slides or diagrams.

If you child is a kinesthetic learner, then just seeing the assignment on the board will not be enough. He or she will want an experiential or hands-on understanding and FEELING of the assignment and will need to write it down for him or herself, draw a picture, make a map or diagram, or even use manipulatives to feel it out. 

Your auditory learner will need to HEAR the assignment. This can occur in a multitude of different ways. For example the assignment may be simply spoken by the teacher and then repeated by the student, or played from an audio recording, perhaps tapping their fingers, drumming, or marching while repeating the assignment in their head; the options are endless. 

Both Auditory and Visual learners are often very strong in the Kinesthetic sense and might need to move around the classroom, or stand up while learning. Personally I don’t understand why many teachers have an issue with this, I think it’s a control thing and will spare you the rest of my diatribe for now. These are the kids who are most likely labeled ‘fidgety,’ and are often misdiagnosed with ADHD and put on meds. It’s sad really, as these are children who are just highly creative and need to be accepted for who they are.

How can I identify my child’s sensory strength?

By actively listening and observing…and for you kinesthetic learners out there, you’ll feel your way around.

The clues to discovering your child’s sensory strength can be found in their dialogue, and once you’ve discovered this gem, then the fun can begin. You can make up all kinds of creative ways to help your child to; complete their homework, do their chores, finish their responsibilities, etc. If you’d like to hear some of the ideas I’ve tried with kids and have been successful with in the past, then please comment on this post, as I’m more than happy to share!

Here’s a handy list of sensory words that will help you in discovering your child’s learning strength.

Visual                    Auditory                          Kinesthetic
See                         Hear                                    Feel
Look                        Sound                                 Sense
Bright                      Volume                                Shape
Observe                   Pitch/Tone                           Form
Watch                     Listening                              Touch
Clear                       Giggle                                  Grasp
Focus                      Voice an opinion                    Hurt
Shine/Glow               Roar                                    Hold
Get the picture         Speaking up                          Sensitive
Appears                   Scream                                 Stuck
Reflect                     Wordy                                  Relaxed
Foggy/Blurry             Tune in/Tune out                  Excited

So to sum up, learning your child’s sensory strength will be an invaluable tool for you as the parent to use when creating and implementing your house rules, chores and responsibilities, and will help to create a more peaceful home environment for all!

It will also be pricelss information for the teacher to have when designing his or her lesson plans. After all, with your child spending a majority of the day at school and away from home, wouldn’t you like to help your teachers understand how your child learns best?

Now you can both communicate with your child in a way that he or she will understand thus promoting their success, inspiration, motivation and enjoyment, both at home and at school!

Remember, have fun with this! As you embark on your sensory learning expedition you will undoubtedly uncover your child’s strengths and passions…I invite you to be open minded and surprised at what you will discover.

Please comment and share some of your discoveries, successes and non-successes, (I like that phrase better than the word failures) with me and the MomsZone moms. I look forward to hearing from you! 🙂

With love and blessings,

ps. For a more complete list, and for more information on learning the sensory language of your child, read Dr. Joyce Mills’s book called, Therapeutic Metaphors for Children and the Child Within, which you can find and buy from her website.

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