Thursday, April 27, 2006

Young Learning Styles - how early is too early?

Barbara and I were enjoying an Easter brunch with my family, when my daughter deliberately ignored one of my requests. Up until then, she was a model child, enthralled by Barbara’s attention and eager to please... quite unlike the daughter I know and love, in fact. But clearly, enough was enough, and she decided to assert herself by returning to her non-compliant self. Fortunately, she’s also externally motivated, so it was easy to guide her back into model-child behaviour.

In case you’re wondering, my daughter is three years old. Barbara and I just looked at each other and laughed: “That’s learning styles for you.”

So there you have it. While some elements of the Learning Styles Analysis (LSA) Pyramid can only be assessed at a later stage (statements like “I remember best when I can read about it” only make sense if you can already read), others come out much, much earlier.

The other day, we talked about soccer, and how, regardless of which team member scores the goal, it’s the whole team that wins. My daughter looked at us seriously: “Mummy,” she said. “I don’t like team work. I want to win all by myself.” I carry the LSA pyramid in my head, so I immediately put a large cross (for non-preference) through the social element called “Team” and a circle (for preference) around the social element “Alone”.

I also know that my daughter is visual, auditory and kinesthetic, although whether that last one remains a preference, or becomes a flexibility later on, is yet to be seen (from my personal observations, I believe that some of today’s couch potatoes were once children who enjoyed physical play). She also needs mouth stimulation: she bites her nails, and I can’t even begin to count the holes she’s bitten through sleeves, collars and hat strings, and I’m very glad I know about Learning Styles or else I might have ended up punishing my lovely daughter for something that’s not her fault.

My 19-month old son, on the other hand, is a strong tactile learner: he has to touch everything to figure out how it works, he loves the feel of different fabrics and textures, and he needs to hold the board book we’re reading in his own hands or he gets bored. He is also an obedient child (compliance) who loves playing with his sister (pairs). His favourite pastimes are sweeping and putting toys back into their box at the end of the play - that penchant for neatness, combined with his insistence to get everything “right”, points towards analytic tendencies, though I hesitate to pronounce anything definite this early on, because most children tend to start off as holistic, so I’m a bit thrown by this observation.

The LSA Junior assessment on is recommended for children aged 7 -12. Nevertheless, if you have a younger child, you can still deduce several of their learning style elements by simply observing them at play (let the questionnaire guide you).

But how early is too early? Well, for the sake of being a better parent who understands their child, I say: the earlier, the better.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Learning Difficulties

An interesting article in today’s New Zealand Herald ( which confirms that dyslexic people read with the right side of their brains, while “normal” readers use their left brain hemisphere.

This ties in with my blog of a few weeks ago about dyslexia, but, more importantly, it also has tremendous implications in terms of finding a way to help dyslexia sufferers learn to read and survive in today’s alphabet-oriented world.

Of course, not all learning difficulties and not all learning disorders can be blamed on dyslexia and ADHD. Research has shown that people learn in different ways: some learn visually, others kinaesthetically; some learn best in the morning, others in the evening; some need background music, others can only concentrate in absolute silence. In fact, we at Creative Learning Systems ( have identified 49 elements to consider when analysing a person's Learning Style.

So if you think your child may be an underachiever (in other words, if they are getting grades that are below your expectations or not reflecting their potential), if they have trouble concentrating in class, if they appear hyperactive, stressed or lethargic when it comes to their studies, we would strongly urge you to let your child complete their Learning Style Analysis (LSA) to see whether the cure is as simple as changing the light bulb in their study or letting them snack on an apple while doing homework.

Please go to to improve your child’s learning future today.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

3 quick relaxation tips

In many parts of the world, Easter holidays are upon us. It’s time to kick off your shoes, meet up with family and friends, eat too much festive food.

Now is a good time to de-stress, especially if the thought of a family gathering makes all your nerves stand at attention. So here are 3 quick relaxation tips:

1. Eat chocolate

Chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa is rich in anti-oxidants and therefore good for us. So whether Easter eggs are part of your tradition or not, have a little chocolate this season.

2. Take a long bath

Leisure activities like a long bath or shower often fade away when life goes into overdrive. Don’t let them: aqua-therapy really works.

3. Read for pleasure

Reading is part of everyday life. We all read our email, newspapers, specialist literature, books that have won the Booker Prize, instructions on the vitamin pills and our own Working Style Analysis (WSA) found on But the best way to relax is to read something for pleasure. There’s no need to feel guilty about it. Leisure reading is not an indulgence or a waste of time - it is good for your creativity, it expands your mind and exercises your imagination.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tactile learning

If your child doesn’t look at you when you’re talking to her, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s not paying attention. On the contrary, it may mean that she’s listening so hard she is not able to look at you at the same time. That’s because her preferred mode of input may be via her hands, not via her ears or eyes.

Tactile learners touch things to get a sense of them. They learn by handling objects. If they have to use their listening skills, they prefer to supplement that with a tactile activity like clicking a pen on and off.

To interest a tactile child in books (which is the first step towards teaching them to read and write), let her hold the book in their hands during the reading session, as opposed to placing it on a table. Let her turn the pages, point to the pictures, trace the word lines. For babies and toddlers, the “Touch and feel” books with textured pictures are best.

When the child is ready to start learning the alphabet, cut the individual letters out of small-grained sandpaper and let her trace their grainy surface with her fingertip. Buy three-dimensional magnetic letters to stick on the fridge. Make letters together from play dough. Bake letter-shaped cookies. Let the child write and draw with her fingers in fine sand.

Tactile children of school-going age will most likely find the traditional teaching methods (via the blackboard and auditory lessons) a challenge. Augment their learning by encouraging them to make models of what they’re learning, create textured maps and complete educational jigsaw puzzles. Help them make the very learning tools they need, such as flip chutes and wrap-arounds and electro-boards. (Feel free to contact us for instructions on how to make those.)

Your child’s Learning Style Analysis (LSA) report on will tell you whether your child is a tactile learner and whether they will respond well to tactile learning tools.

(Inspired by Maria Montessori, who said: “Never give to the mind more than you give to the hand”.)