child drawing with crayons
Teaching to All Learning Abilities

Everyone takes in information in the same way, through the five senses; but how that information is processed differs for each person. The methods by which we process information are grouped into three classic categories known as learning styles or learning preferences. Each person learns through a mixture of these three styles: visual, auditory, and physical. Each person usually has one learning style that is strongest. When we are taught toward our learning strengths, we benefit the most.

As you consider the students in your life, pray for insight into the preferred learning styles of each one. Use the strategies below to adapt how you teach to capitalize on every learning ability.

There are our types of learners, based on the learning styles and developmental ability:

Visual learners naturally learn best through seeing pictures, images, and written information. Their motto is “Help me SEE IT and I’ll understand!”

Auditory learners naturally learn best through hearing verbal information, music and sounds. Their motto is “Help me HEAR IT and I’ll understand!”

Physical learners naturally learn best through movement, touch and experimenting. Their motto is “Help me DO IT and I’ll understand!”

Challenged learners have developed more slowly than their peers, typically operating significantly below grade level. They may need additional approaches to learning. Their motto is “Help me SIMPLIFY IT and I’ll understand!”


Strategies and Tips for All Learning Abilities


Visual Learners


– Use sign language or hand motions
– Use expressive body language when teaching
– Display picture schedules (see suggested apps for iPads and tablets)
– Show pictures of objects
– Read big books
– Integrate charts and diagrams
– Locate places on maps
– Watch video clips
– Show images on an iPad or other technology
– Show an image and look for similarities and differences
– Write text on a poster board or dry erase board
– Encourage the child to keep a journal for notes
– Create a biblical photo booth or slideshow
– Do crafts
– Use picture prompts and communication folders
– Have a mystery bag filled with objects to help you share the lesson
– Have a welcome table with display items related to the weekly lesson and vary the items each week
– Provide books in large print
– Use puppets
– Use flannel graphs
– Act out a drama
– Wear costumes
– Use arrows and pointers
– Vary your facial expressions
– Use charts or simple line drawings
– Use brightly colored visuals
– Have students close their eyes and create a mental picture
– Display interactive bulletin boards

Auditory Learners


– Tell stories and allow students to retell them
– Read from short passages of Scripture
– Play a recording of a sound related to the lesson
– Sing and play instruments
– Alter your tone of voice while teaching
– Encourage students to discuss topics and interact with their peers
– Select volunteers to read out loud – keep in mind that not all auditory learners can read
– Ask students questions
– Use a microphone prop when asking students questions
– Assign partners when asking questions and encourage kids to compare answers with their partners
– Put Bible verses, memory verses or concepts to music or a chant
– Open the lesson with a “hook” to allow students to talk about a life experience
– When talking with a child, take the mental age into consideration but always use age-appropriate language
– Use materials that are high interest and current
– Encourage students to ask questions
– Add music when possible
– Tell students what to listen for before teaching your lessons, such as a word, person, or event
– Use talking books
– Debates

Physical Learners


– Allow for movement throughout the class schedule
– Engage students by asking them to point or use body language
– Move around while teaching so students will track your movement
– Hide elements of the story and have a scavenger hunt
– Use visuals and manipulatives that students can touch and interact with
– Reinforce a lesson with drama
– Explain how the lesson can be applied to an action in daily living
– Dance, wave ribbons, play instruments
– Ask students to respond with a specific action when they hear a key word in your lesson
– Build models individually or as a group
– Use clay, playdough or crafts
– Put together puzzles to reveal part of the lesson
– Perform experiments
– Locate places on a globe
– Leave your classroom and teach the lesson from different locations in your church
– Add hand motions or sign language
– Turn a written activity into a game: for example, if you’re tracking Paul’s missionary journey, write locations on strips of paper and place them on the floor around the room and walk the kids through the journey
– Use a sandbox with manipulatives for students to reenact the lesson
– Build models using LEGOs
– Offer alternate seating
– Write in the air
– Use catch-ball drills to review facts
– Take a “walk and talk” about concepts in the lesson
– If a student has worked outside of the classroom for a portion of the time, encourage the student to share with the class what they have learned

Challenged Learners


– If a student is not able to be completely included for the entire lesson, begin with including them for small portions, such as the welcome and music times, and increase the student’s time in class in small increments
– Teach alternate (simplified) lessons in a small group setting or with a 1:1 buddy inside or outside of the classroom
– Choose to focus on the main idea of the lesson
– Adjust the parameters of a lesson, such as the length of the lesson or written vs. oral responses
– When asking questions, give two answer options
– Shorten Bible verses
– Add hand motions when possible to any activity
– Pause after asking questions
– If a student is not able to write, offer hand-over-hand guidance
– Replace writing activities with verbal discussions
– If using in-class papers or worksheets, reveal only one section at a time by covering the rest with a paper
– Talk to students even though a student may not offer a verbal response
– Provide advance notice of any changes to the class schedule
– Create social stories
– Use visual reinforcement together with verbal instruction
– Give a predetermined signal before making a transition
– Use “Yes” and “No” cards
– Maintain good eye contact
– Ask questions that can be answered with a thumbs-up, head nod, or blink of the eyes
– Set lessons to music
– Incorporate alternate forms of communication, such as pictures, books, and sign language
– Develop communication systems, such as a church-home communication notebook that the student takes home each week
– Use simple words and clear steps
– Allow students to repond orally, not in writing
– Modify activities that requre writing
– Highlight key concepts and tell students to focus only on the highlighted material
– Offer clear and consistent expectations
– Limit choices
– While keeping the lesson focus in mind, select 1 or 2 activities to complete instead of all the activities
– When completing word searches or puzzles, cover or shade half of the activity to provide a shortened version of what peers are doing
– Repeat yourself often; repetition reinforces concepts
– Assign reading partners
– Use color coding, number coding, shape coding, and texture coding
– Use pictures as much as possible
– Always make sure that what you are doing revolves around the original purpose of the Bible theme
– Simplify rules for an activity
– Shorten an activity
– Pre-cut or partially assemble a craft
– Move at a slower pace