Study styles: Help your teen find the one that suits him best
Visual or auditory, logical or social... or perhaps a combination of some? Get the best out of your child whether they're writing their very first exam, or pulling late nights to ace matric finals.

Every child is unique and intelligent in different ways. Experts have come to realise that intelligence is no longer just about IQ, but about social, linguistic, logical, spatial, musical and body-kinesthetic intelligence (among others) as well. Children who used to perform poorly in IQ tests were considered ‘dumb’, where if they were simply tested on another scale they would have been identified as ‘super-intelligent’.  

All children are smart in some way or another, even those children labelled as ‘mentally or learning ‘disabled’. The best thing you can do for your child is to discover where they excel and help them find ways to show the world how brilliant they are.  

Closely connected to different types of intelligence (termed "multiple intelligences"), are learning styles. Children learn in different ways and how they learn gives a strong indication of where their level of intelligence is high (and vice versa). Also, if your child works with his natural knack for learning, his or her studying, homework, extra-mural activities and even inter-personal relationships can be improved.

Keep in mind that your child may have a combination of learning strengths and will need to take methods from each for optimal learning.  

How does your child learn?  


Children with this learning style love solving problems and coming up with the right answer. They love to do research and discover new information. These children are really good at tests and exams because they enjoy answering questions. 

  • tidy room
  • good at problem solving
  • love puzzles
  • can easily unscramble letters to make a word
  • needs structure
  • enjoys fixing things
  • good at strategy games such as chess

Study tips for logical-mathematical learners


These children are great with people and don't like to work alone. They love to discuss their ideas and work best in groups

  • considered a natural leader
  • believes in fighting for a cause
  • has close friends
  • loves parties
  • good team player

Study tips for social-interpersonal learners

Bodily-kinesthetic (tactile)

Learners with this strength find it very hard to sit still and learn best by using their hands or moving around.

  • learns best by active involvement
  • likes to do things with their hands
  • hobbies are physical
  • finds it hard to sit for a long time
  • enjoys exercise
  • likes to keep busy

Study tips for bodily-kinesthetic learners.


Auditory learners remember a lot of what was said in class and prefer listening to information than reading it. 

  • focuses in on noise and sounds
  • moving to a beat is easy for them
  • loves seeing musicals
  • plays musical instruments well
  • remembers sounds and words after hearing them once (such as song lyrics)
  • likes having music on when studying

Study tips for auditory learners


These are the "natural" study types. They love reading and studying and learning comes very naturally to them.

  • interested in learning foreign languages
  • enjoys reading books, magazines and websites
  • likes to write letters
  • enjoys class discussion
  • keeps a journal
  • taking notes helps them to study
  • loves crossword puzzles

Study tips for linguistic learners

Spatial (visual)

Children with this learning strength think in pictures and are sometimes known as having a "photographic memory".

  • often re-arranges his or her room
  • enjoys things like packing the car for a journey
  • remembers facts easily with charts, graphs and tables
  • dresses well (colours match)
  • can find their way easily (good at navigating and reading maps)
  • recalls things as mental pictures
  • enjoys three-dimensional puzzles like the Rubik's Cube
  • tend to daydream a lot

Study tips for spatial learners

Children who are considered "school smart" generally fall into either the linguistic or mathematical-logical category (or even both). 

No child is intelligent in all areas, just as no child is not intelligent at all. In addition to the learning styles and intelligence types mentioned, there are other categories that educational experts have identified (such as naturalist intelligence and intra-personal intelligence) and there will probably be many more discovered as this area is researched in more detail. 

The bottom line is that your child is smart. No matter what has been said about him or her, or what the report card shows.  Your child has a very specific way of learning and understanding the world and if you can tap into that a whole new world can open up.  Go discover the genius!

Michelle Minnaar has degrees in Psychology and Education and regularly conducts workshops for teens and parents on topics such as self-esteem, depression, eating disorders, drug abuse and learning problems.

How does your child learn? Do you believe every child has some talents? Send your comments to for possible publication.

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