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This Afternoon

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Learning Styles and Study Environments

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Once you know how you and your student learn best, you can use this information to create a more efficient learning environment for your household.

If your student is a visual learner, you need to provide a space that is quiet. It should be visually appealing, but not distracting; it should be organized and tidy. Visual learners work well at a desk or table. They like to have everything they need at their fingertips. They also prefer working independently and can endure study times without a lot of breaks. Of the three types of learners, those who are visual are most likely to succeed in their own bedrooms – provided there is a desk. A home office, if tidy and organized, is perfect.

If your student is an auditory learner, she should be in a place with a desk and a place where her talking won’t distract others. Some background noise may be good as it helps to override distracting noises, such as people talking. I recommend ambient sounds such as rain, ocean waves, or birds singing – or instrumental music without words. Having someone to bounce ideas off can be very helpful to an auditory learner, but that will require monitoring. Remember: auditory learners love to talk and can easily draw others into irrelevant conversations.

A tactile learner is the real challenge, since they truly do thrive on activity and noise. The kitchen may actually be a great place for the tactile learner because he won’t be distracted by clanking pans, running water, or breaking dishes. Also, his active behavior is less likely to distract others. More importantly, the kitchen table provides easy monitoring. Tactile learners need frequent breaks, sometimes as often as every 15-20 minutes. These breaks should be short – from 3 to 5 minutes – and physical – treadmill, ball game with the dog, trampoline, even a snack.

Remember: regardless of the learning style, breaks should never be spent on the phone or computer.

This might also be the appropriate time to suggest that students do not need a television or computer in their bedrooms. I don’t think I need to recite again all the things that can go wrong with unattended time watching television or sitting at a computer. I encourage you to make the commitment right now that your television(s) and computer(s) will be kept in a central location, one that is always available for easy monitoring and control.