Discovering Young Children's Preferred Learning Styles

Discovering Young Children's Preferred Lerarning Styles

By Sarah Wissinger Class of 2018


The preferred learning styles of individual students has been studied for decades. When teachers know what their student's preferred learning styles are and adjust their teaching methods accordingly, students' learning benefits. However, in order for teachers to adjust their lesson plans to accomodate student's preferred learning styles, they need to find out what those preferred learning styles are. Students do not always know. The resources displayed below are the result of research on how to determine how students learn best. 

How to Assess Student's Learning Styles: Curry's Onion Model and the VARK Model

Curry's Onion Model: 

In this model, Curry suggests that there are multiple aspects to an individual's personality that can be factored into deciding how that individual learns best. The onion that is discussed in the model represents the different layers to the individual's personality that should be considered. The layers are: instructional preference, social interaction, information processing style, and cognitive personality style. Testing all of the layers to the onion is important to discovering a student's learning style. 

The VARK Model

VARK is an anchroym for visual, auditiory, read/write, and kinesthetic, which are different learning syles that students can prefer. This model is a questionnaire that is used to identify student's individual learning styles. The questionnaire contains sixteen questions and was created by Neil Fleming. 


Discovering Preferred Learning Styles in Very Young Children:

Discovering the learning styles of very young children can be difficult. They may not be able to answer questionnaires effectively because of their lack of experience in school and in life in general. However, discovering the learning style of a child at a young age is crucial because it is beneficial for their teachers to adapt teaching styles to their student’s preferred learning styles. Here are some ways you can find out what a young child’s preferred learning style is.

If a child has difficulty sitting still, enjoys sports or dancing and using their hands for activities like drawing or crafts, that child is likely a kinesthetic learner. A child who is a kinesthetic learner might enjoy learning activities that allow them to use their hands. For example, he or she might like to build models, or working in whiteboards.


A child who enjoys speaking and discussions, and is good at following verbal directions is probably an auditory learner. These students might learn well from listening to recorded content or reading aloud.


Signs that a child is a visual learner might include that he or she enjoys art, is directional, and is able to easily recognize people who he or she knows. Visual learners tend to learn best when they are able to receive information or content through video or look at pictures. Additionally, it may be helpful for them to color code the notes they take or read, or use stickers.


Although there are learning styles besides kinesthetic, auditory, and visual, these learning styles are easier to identify in young children. Finding the one that fits a child best could help them in their early academic careers.


 Things for Teachers to Keep in Mind While Assessing Student's Preferred Learning Styles: 

- Knowing that students have different ways of learning can impact their success

- Students do not have a single preferred learning style. There are usually a couple of dominant ones

-A student's preferred learning style may not remain consistant througout his or her whole life

- Students can often adapt to different learning styles depending on their environment

- It can often be helpful to use a combination of assessment tools


Tools That Teachers Can Use To Help Assess Student's Preferred Learning Style: 

- Myers Briggs Type Indicator 

- The VARK Questionnaire 

- An original questionnaire built using Curry's Onion Model



Basheer, G. S., Tang, A. C., & Ahmad, M. S. (2016). Designing Teachers' Observation Questionnaire based on Curry's Onion Model for Students' Learning Styles Detection. TEM Journal, 5(4), 515-521. doi:10.18421/TEM54-16

*, S. C. (2004). Learning Styles: An overview of theories, models, and measures. Educational Psychology, 24(4), 419-444. doi:10.1080/0144341042000228834


Pennington, Molly. (2015, January 6). How to Identify Your Child’s Learning Style. Retrieved from

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