“Do my students even care? Is anyone listening?”
Not only are students going through a whole host of life issues, personal changes, and challenges but every student is different and has a preferred way of learning. When it comes to learning styles, remember that every student is different. Don’t take it personally when you feel like your students aren’t paying attention, and don’t make assumptions about them based on their perceived level of interest. It could be that the students in your group who seem least engaged have simply never been taught in a way that suits their unique personality and mentality.
With that in mind, here are 8 learning styles and some examples of ways you might engage them.
- Verbal – These students learn best by talking and hearing. They love to tell stories and to write. At first glance these students might seem like the easiest to teach since they like to listen, however, it’s important to know that verbal learners learn not only by hearing but also by talking––they learn best when they are invited to discuss what you are teaching so that they can verbally process the truths you are discussing.
- Logical – These learners want to understand step-by-step how something works or why something is true. They learn by categorizing and seeing the connections between things. Help such students see the connections between different stories in the Bible, between the Old and New Testaments, and most importantly, invite them to uncover connections of their own.
- Visual – These learners are very observant, typically have good imaginations, and learn best through observation and imagination. To help such students connect, paint pictures with your words. Help them paint a picture of the world in which the stories of the Bible existed. Also consider using visual illustrations to capture their attention.
- Natural – These students learn best by collecting and organizing. They love being outdoors. This might be difficult for some of you, but if you don’t already, figure out some ways to get outside with your students. The heavens, after all, declare the glory of God. Plan a day hike with your students or a picnic or even just a night of worship outside.
- Physical – These students learn best on the move. They love games and activities. I know it’s difficult and sometimes can even feel like a stretch, but these students appreciate games that connect to the main point of a lesson or study.
- Musical – These students learn best by rhythm, melody, and music. Paul commanded us to speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. There is a whole book of the Bible that is filled with songs of worship, so don’t downplay the importance of worship music. Good worship songs teach good theology and fill our hearts with truth.
- Relational – These students learn best through good relationships in which they are sharing, cooperating, and socializing. It’s important for you to know that for some students in your group, your lesson will be much less meaningful to them than the conversations they have afterward. Make sure you are giving time and space in your meetings for students to talk to each other and to you after ward.
- Reflective – These students learn best by reflecting, thinking, and working alone. These students will need some space to go home and reflect on what they’ve been learning. It’s important to recognize that some of your students are going to be more introverted and need some space to decompress.
How can you possibly address each of these learning styles in the way you lead Bible studies, events, and small groups? What’s most important is simply recognizing that these learning styles exist and that every student is different. Part of loving your students and teaching them well is simply making the effort to get to know them.
And remember, God has promised in Isaiah 55:11 that His Word will not return empty but will accomplish exactly what He sets out for it to. Keep teaching God’s Word. Teach it in season and out. Make every effort to teach your students in ways that will resonate with them, but please know that even if it seems like they aren’t getting it, God’s Word is powerful and He will bless your faithfulness.