Multiple modalities vs. one learning style

Educational Specialist Carolyn McWilliams explains how despite different learning styles in children, research shows that there is one way that almost all children can learn better
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Multiple modalities vs. one learning style

Learning style is a really popular term in education right now. We tend to divide students into visual, auditory, tactical, and kinesthetic learners. There are lots of little tests online and a variety of ways you can find out what your child's dominant learning style is. That said, the solid research in whether that actually makes a difference in learning, is not really there. What we do know is that children learn best when they have multiple modalities. If they have auditory input, and they have visual input. They get to touch things. They get to move while they are doing it. Any child learns the best when they are approached with all learning styles and they have an opportunity to have multiple kinds of input.

Educational Specialist Carolyn McWilliams explains how despite different learning styles in children, research shows that there is one way that almost all children can learn better


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Carolyn McWilliams, MA

Educational Specialist

Carolyn is currently an educational therapist and educational consultant helping students, parents, and schools meet the challenges of gifted students with learning challenges through her offices in Santa Monica, California. Carolyn also does general consulting with schools on topics from curriculum development to teaching study skills to interpretation of student test scores.

Carolyn began her educational career in Santa Barbara, California, where she received her B.A. and M.A. and became a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Administration with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction. She served as a supervisor of student teachers and taught courses across the educational curriculum during her eight years at UCSB.

After completing her studies, Carolyn moved to Los Angeles where she served as the head of Adat Ari El Day School in Valley Village and as a consultant on issues of learning and instruction to Jewish day schools across the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Spectrum, as well as to elementary and secondary schools of all types. During this time she also served on the faculty of California State University at Northridge.

The parent of three highly gifted daughters of her own (one with learning challenges), throughout her career, Carolyn has designed innovative strategies, as well as unique programs to help gifted students achieve life success. She established the Johns Hopkins Center for Academically Talented Youth (CTY) Summer Commuter Program held at the University of California Los Angeles and served as parent liaison for the CTY to the press and larger community. She was the founder and head of Bridges Academy, which serves a population of twice-exceptional students in grades 6-12, from 1994-2003 (

Carolyn has been a classroom teacher in both Goleta Union and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. She was LAUSD Teacher of the Year, was one of five finalists for California Teacher of the Year, and was given an Outstanding Educator Award by the Los Angeles Times. She has published curriculum and articles in the areas of special education, social studies, English, educational computing, ESL, multi-cultural education, study skills, and classroom organization. She regularly presents at conferences and schools on topics related to curriculum, instruction, classroom organization, gifted students, and special needs populations. 

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