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Learning Styles - Auditory Learners'"Me"

By Pamela Maxey


"As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!" One of my favorite scenes from the old television program -WKRP in Cincinnati- was when the station manager had turkeys dropped from a helicopter to promote the radio station. The result was of course disastrous and made for high humor as on the spot news anchor Les Nessman reported the event as if the Hindenburg itself was crashing down. The manager made a horrible mistake because he thought he was working with birds that could fly. Great idea. Disastrous results. Sometimes wrong assumptions or misguided decisions can have famously bad outcomes. This makes for a great laugh when it's on TV. It's not so funny if the disaster unveils itself at your dinner table during school time. With good information about your child's learning style, you may avert your own home education disaster of "Titanic" proportions!


We have many choices to make as a parent educator with how and what to teach. It is best to make those choices with our child's learning styles in mind so we can provide the best education possible for our children. As a parent educator, you are in the unique position to teach your child using tools that work best for you. We will explore three basic learning styles in the next few issues. You should discover ways that you and your child best learn, your personal weakness, and how to work around or through your strengths and weaknesses. First, I will discuss auditory activities, traits of auditory learners, traits of those with auditory weaknesses, and how to help. In future articles I will discuss visual learners and kinesthetic/tactile learners.


Auditory learners are those who learn best through hearing information. You or your child may be an auditory learner if he follows oral directions better than written directions. An auditory learner will understand information better when it is read aloud than when they read it themselves. A child who is an auditory learner will prefer someone to read a book aloud or have it read to him rather than reading himself. An auditory learner may at times talk to himself, often sing or hum aloud, and can easily discriminate sounds. He will also often require others to help interpret diagrams, maps, and graphs. An auditory learner will often do well in more advanced learning situations such as college lectures. This type of child will often do well in typical school settings because these settings are more geared to strong auditory learners.

Your auditory learner will be the child who doesn't need things explained many times. You use that strength to your advantage when teaching things your child needs to memorize by rote. This type of child will memorize better by pairing the memorization with a tune or rhythm. Give instructions verbally when possible and talk about visual materials such as graphs and charts. After reading, discuss the story and story elements with your child. Use videos and taped books when possible for learning activities. An auditory learner will not be as motivated with computer learning or individual learning. They will want interaction and talking about learning situations. Your child may like to read and study with music playing; in fact, it may even increase their learning levels. An auditory learner will often be strong in reading and language skills, but not as strong in math and spelling skills. An auditory learner will most often learn well with reading instruction based on phonics skills. Sounding out words and understanding context in reading will most likely be a strength because of strong language skills.


A child with weak auditory skills will have more difficulty in typical school settings. This child will have a difficult time with oral directions, phonics skills, and too much discussion. My youngest son falls into this category. It is typical for him to become overloaded when there is too much conversation for him to deal with on any one subject. The other night, we had this wonderful time of sharing family memories of our grandparents and growing up. It was a great family time of sharing and talking. He was - with us - for about 20 minutes when out of the blue he said, "Can we stop talking about this now?" He wasn't being rude; he just couldn't talk about it anymore. He 'checks out' after too much conversation. If he is working with something visually, he can work for hours, but he couldn't talk for hours if he had to. I don't know how he came from my genes, but God works in mysterious ways! To teach reading strictly by phonics skills will be difficult for a child with weak auditory skills, this child needs other ways to help decode reading texts. Reading and language skills will most likely be difficult for a child with very weak auditory skills. In my teaching experience (seventeen years with learning disabilities), I have only taught a few children with such weak auditory skills that they could not learn phonics skills to help with reading. But, I have had many students who needed other skills such as context, sight words, and language patterns stressed so they could begin reading.

Whether your child has strong or weak auditory skills, you need to keep providing information through auditory modes. If your child learns well with auditory modes, you will further enhance their learning. Presenting lessons with increased auditory input will help your child who has auditory strengths learn information quicker and remember lessons longer. If auditory skills are a weakness for your child you need to help your child improve in auditory skills. Remember to pair your auditory input with visual or kinesthetic modes. Keep in mind your child and his or her own unique characteristics when teaching lessons and picking out materials to study.

There are times that children with strong auditory skills run into trouble with learning. For example, my oldest child is a very strong auditory learner. Those skills have served him well in school lessons, reading, and memorizing (especially lines from his favorite movies). Those strong auditory skills caused some problem when it came to his first year of tackle football. He had always been a good athlete and played many sports before, but this was the first contact sport. He happened to get paired with some coaches that were not very good at telling him what to do when practicing. My husband was getting frustrated while watching practice and not understanding why our son wasn't getting the plays they were showing him. We stood on the sidelines and had a painful discussion about how our son learns (or not in this case) and why he was struggling. After our talk, my husband realized our son was doing exactly what the coaches said but not what they were showing him. They couldn't they tell him what to do; they could only show him. He needed to be told how to do the skill. Over the season and with my husband's intervention, we finally had a successful year but we had to modify how our son learned the skills. You too may need a new "game plan" to modify how you teach and materials you use with your child to score a victory this year!


Pamela Maxey is the founder of Classic Apple. She graduated from William Jewell College with a degree in Elementary Education. She has taught children with learning disabilities or homeschooled her own children for the past 20 plus years. She resides in Lee's Summit, Missouri with her husband and two sons and, as of the year 2000, counts herself among the growing sorority of breast cancer survivors. Here life is a testimony to the saving Love of her Heavenly Father.  You can contact her at 816-537-5801 or


Copyright 2002.
Originally appeared in Fall 2002. Used with permission.
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.


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