Educational Assistants strive to treat each student individually, taking into account their specific needs and how they learn. When working with a group of diverse minds, various learning styles and ways of thinking are present. Common styles are visual (through pictures, images and spatial understanding), auditory (music and sound), kinesthetic (through the hands, body and sense of touch), and linguistic (spoken and written words).
Adapting to learning styles is a great way to make a difference in a student’s life, helping to give them a more rewarding educational experience. It’s also a great way to understand different behaviours and why they may be surfacing, sometimes as a result of not feeling engaged enough by teaching methods. Read on for a few helpful things to know about learning styles, if you are looking at a career as an educational assistant.
Individual Styles to Apply Learning Theory from Educational Assistant Classes
A common misconception is that each person falls under one learning style. On the contrary, children will often respond strongly to a few types of learning, sometimes with a combination of styles working best. As you’ll learn in educational assistant classes, it’s important to meet the individual needs of each student.
If basic instruction is structured in a way that resonates with most or all students, then individual help can be more tailored to each student’s best way of learning. For example, the teacher you assist may use music to teach a small group, then follow this up with visual instruction for a child who gravitates heavily towards images. This personalizes learning and shows empathy and understanding for each individual on their journey.
Thinking Style will Matter too When you Become an Educational Assistant
Thinking style differs from learning style, but the two go hand in hand when catering class material to a student. The difference is that learning style is how a child receives information best, while thinking style is how they process information best. It can affect how much time they need after a lesson to process, as well as the appropriate pacing that the instructor you work with will use.
Linear thinkers need structure and a sequenced format when they process new information. These children need the first step to be completed before they can move on to the second step. They prefer that things are consistent and predictable, meaning that weaving this into your teaching assistance, while keeping your pacing moderate or slow, will keep them from feeling lost or frustrated.
Global thinkers aren’t as patient with a step by step format. They want all of the information available right away, so that they can see the whole picture. Children who want an entire lesson at once and seem to get antsy waiting between steps will want information faster, with a big picture given before review.
A Growth Mindset Prevents Children From Getting Boxed in
It’s important to maintain a growth mindset when you become an educational assistant. A child may excel with one particular learning style, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t excel in a different learning style a year from now. You may assist a teacher who uses kinesthetic strategies with a student who’s very physical and responds to learning through their five senses. At the same time, this student could be challenged to learn through auditory tools and build their skills with learning through sound.
You may be asked to encourage these developments by blending different learning styles when you assist students. Let them learn through combining what they are great at with something they find challenging, making it less intimidating and confusing for the child as you help them.
Are you interested in an education assistant training course?
Contact KCL College for more information.