How to Teach Math According to Different Learning Styles

Math manipulatives with problems and solutions on them.

Identifying your child’s learning style in math can help them grasp concepts more quickly and obtain the foundational skills they will need later on to solve more complex problems with efficiency. Identifying the 4 Learning styles for math and learning how to hone in on each one can help increase your students’ confidence, speed, and success in the classroom. Let’s take a look at some of the most common learning styles and their advantages.

Visual Learning in Math

In the typical North American classroom, students tend to have more trouble with complex problem-solving abilities. One way to aid students in this area is to teach them how to visualize or draw a model of the problem at hand so they can take steps toward finding the solution. Here is how the 4 Learning styles for math help a visual learner gain an edge in problem-solving and math:

  • A visual learner should focus on contextualizing the problem and understanding the question based on what they know by creating an image either in their mind or through drawing on paper
  • A visual learner can use these pictures to model word problems in math and represent the solution more thoroughly
  • According to the learning styles in math, they should be encouraged to use graphs, models, and charts to organize their thoughts and processes to increase their understanding

Visual learners typically rely on taking notes during sessions, color-coding, and jotting down key concepts. In word problems this can translate to underlining key concepts in order to identify key representations. Teaching math concepts that appeal to the 4 Learning styles helps the visual learner use their abilities to their advantage.

Verbal/Auditory Learning in Math

A verbal or auditory learner thrives through collaboration, conversation and sharing. They enjoy talking things through and verbalizing their processes. In math, there are many benefits to students who can express their ideas in detail. Here are some pedagogical practices to teach math effectively to a verbal/auditory learner:

  • Record or tape the lesson and have your child re-listen to it and talk through key concepts
  • Give your child an opportunity to join a small-group study setting where more collaboration is natural
  • Encourage your child to read word or number problems out loud and repeat as needed while thinking of ‘next steps’ in the problem

In the US and Canada, teachers frequently see gaps in student ability to explain how they came to a solution. Using the 4 Learning styles for math can help a verbal learner gain confidence by explaining their work.

Tactile/Kinesthetic Learning Styles in Math

Traditional math teaching sometimes emphasizes memorization over tactile representations of a problem that can help young learners understand the ‘why.’ If students rely on memorization skills only, they develop gaps later on when more complex problems require deeper thinking skills.

  • Encourage the use of manipulatives or representations to help students with a kinesthetic learning style 
  • Use blocks, money, or a Rekenrek to model problems and compare solutions
  • Use real-world examples to gain insight on the applications of math skills

Kinesthetic learners enjoy acting out math problems and using real tools to solve them. A Singaporean math learning approach involving concrete, pictorial, and abstract representations is best for this type of student.

Reading/Writing Learning Style

Boy reading math textbook.

Some students learn math best by reading and writing. Out of the 4 Learning styles for math, students who enjoy learning through reading and writing are experts at summarizing, digesting textbook pages and taking elaborate notes as they learn. In math, their abilities can be honed further to help them make sense of problems and numbers. 

  • The written learner may need additional time to digest information and learn new strategies
  • They can study by creating a ‘how-to’ guide step-by-step that they can refer to later on
  • They love traditional-style learning at their own pace and should be encouraged to practice the skills they’ve learned thoroughly

For more tips on how to help students use their 4 Learning styles for math reach out to our experienced certified teachers and staff.

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