Hands On, Mind Engaged: Montessori Education for Visual Learners


It is usually obvious to parents and teachers that different children learn in different ways. A model of learning styles developed in 2001 is known as the Visual Auditory Kinesthetic model, and it says that most people have a dominant or preferred learning style, though some people have mixed or blended learning styles. The three basic types of learners are visual learners, auditory learners, and kinesthetic learners.

While there is much more to the concept, visual learners tend to learn through seeing and may think in pictures, while auditory learners learn through listening and think in words. Kinesthetic learners are more hands-on learners, who learn by touching, moving, and doing. While learners of all types can progress in traditional classrooms, parents often find that Montessori education offers a more engaging and effective educational environment for their children. Here is some information on why visual learners often excel in the Montessori classroom.

Visual Learners and Information Intake
Visual learners rely more heavily on their sense of sight to take in, process, and remember information. To the visual learner, seeing something leads to comprehending it. These children have little trouble following their teacher when the teacher illustrates concepts or uses graphs and diagrams. Some visual learners prefer seeing print, while others learn better by seeing pictures, and many visual learners mix print-based and picture-based learning.

Visual learning is thought to be the most dominant learning style, and visual learners excel at remembering visual details. They often use pencil and paper to assist with learning, whether by drawing concepts or writing down text. They often write down instructions and benefit from watching processes being demonstrated.

Helping the Visual Learner Excel
Visual learners often draw diagrams or take notes to help process auditory information.

There are many age-appropriate ways to help the visual learner excel. Some visual learners enjoy writing, and should be encouraged to practice this skill. Books can be good learning tools for visual learners, particularly if they are developmentally appropriate and include interesting images alongside the text. Helping visual learners understand illustrations and diagrams can boost learning, as can maps, charts, and educational videos. Visual learners can also grasp concepts through activities like puzzle building, sketching, and manipulating images. The Montessori classroom can be an outstanding environment for the visual learner due to the variety of opportunities to develop and master concepts in different ways.

Don’t Neglect Other Learning Styles
But parents and teachers shouldn’t neglect the visual learner’s other learning modalities. Learning styles aren’t necessarily permanent, and many children effectively use all learning styles, particularly as they get older and more developmentally advanced. Visual learners should also be provided with opportunities to engage in hands-on activities, and to take in auditory information. Music, for example, can help strengthen a child’s auditory learning skills. When teachers are imparting information by speaking, the visual learner may take in the information better if she is allowed to follow along in a book. Accompanying verbal directions with visual cues can strengthen the visual learner’s ability to learn through listening as well.

Though children use multiple senses in learning, many of them naturally take in visual information better than spoken information. Visual learners can be encouraged to develop their visual learning skills while working on auditory and kinesthetic learning modes as well. The Montessori learning environment is designed to stimulate all a child’s senses, so he can not only learn, but develop a love for learning that has lifelong benefits.

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