Matching Learning Styles to Study Tools

By Huntington Learning Center

As your child matures into an independent student, he or she will continue to refine those all-important study skills. Throughout school, students employ a variety of tools when studying, however, what works for one student may not for another. Help your child enhance his or her study sessions through the use of the right tools for his or her learning style.

There are many different types of learning styles, but one common way to categorize learning preference is through the senses: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Here are descriptions of each and the types of tools or devices that may aid such learners in their study sessions.

Visual learners generally like to see or read what they learn. Students who learn visually often take detailed notes, watch people intently when they are speaking, have vivid imaginations and are good at remembering places or people. They also tend to understand concepts better when a teacher writes them on the board or draws them out.

Study tools for visual learners:

  • Visual aids, such as diagrams, pictures, maps, drawings and charts
  • Flash cards and other visual memory devices
  • A blank notebook or blank paper for drawing out ideas and concepts visually (in order to aid in the student’s comprehension)
  • Written directions for assignments and projects
  • To-do lists
  • Day planners in which to record assignments, appointments and other tasks
  • White boards

Auditory learners learn best by listening and verbalizing concepts aloud. In class, these students may not necessarily need to watch the teacher to comprehend his or her lessons or lectures, provided the subject matter is being discussed in sufficient detail. They prefer to study by reading aloud and talking to themselves and they may be good at remembering the information they hear. Classroom lectures are a comfortable form of learning for these students and many auditory learners ask a lot of questions to reinforce their understanding of things.

Study tools for auditory learners:

  • Tape recorders for classroom lectures
  • Handheld dictation machines to record and play back concepts and ideas
  • Mnemonic devices to help with memorizing facts and information
  • Audio books
  • Study groups
  • Text to speech software, such as NaturalReader (

Kinesthetic learners like to be active participants in the learning process, whether through hands-on activity or some other active endeavor. Such students learn best by doing and enjoy manipulating materials and objects as part of the learning process. In the classroom, these students may need to stand, move around or doodle while listening to lectures. Long periods of reading may make them fidgety and/or cause them to lose focus.

Study tools for kinesthetic learners:

  • Note taking
  • Highlighters to highlight while reading or reviewing
  • Stress ball or other ball (tennis ball or baseball) to play with while studying
  • Interactive tools tied to studying, such as Quizlet, an online study software or Google SketchUp, a drawing and 3D modeling tool
  • Standing desk
  • Stationary bike or treadmill (to use while reading)

Remember that a student might prefer a certain learning style for one task or subject and another style for a different task. Also, tools that work for one type of learner may also work well for another type, too. It’s always good practice to try out different study approaches and tools and talk with your child’s teachers for additional ideas and suggestions. Encourage your child to explore his or her own learning preferences through the use of different tools and techniques so that he or she make the most of every class and study session.


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