What is their learning style?

Imagine that scene: looking for your zebra who is doing her homework, you find her in the hallway. Laying on the floor. 3 notebooks open in front of her. Her computer running with 4 windows open (all homework related) and playing with a pencil. Does it ring a bell? Parents’ first reaction is often telling her “you cannot be productive/focused/do a good job, in those conditions!”. And trying to have her sit at her desk while doing ONE THING AT A TIME. Breaking news: this may just not work for her. Her learning style may be more efficient than you think.

Because of the way our zebra’s brains are wired, they have hundreds of thoughts every minute. So, it often makes sense for them to do multiple things at the same time. Your zebra learning style is a way for her to trying to re-create physically what is happening in her brain. Don’t get me wrong, we are not talking about multitasking or ADHD[1]. That being said, we need to find out if this really works for them. Indeed, this “clutter” may get in their way and they may and have difficulties to finish what they are supposed to do on time.

This can be a problem for some zebras. Because everything comes easy, they do not need to develop learning habits before they face real difficulties, sometimes as late as college. It may be too late to put the right solutions in place and may come at a high price (feeling like a fraud, losing motivation for the studies, dropping out of school, depression). Hence, this is crucial to develop those habits as soon as possible and to help them find their own style.

Put your scientist hat on and explore with them what works to define their learning style. Your first shot should be to identify if they have a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic memory[2]. We usually have a blend of them all but there is always a predominant one. Once you know which one, you can encourage your zebra to write down, create mind maps[3] or register their lessons to listen to them afterwards for instance. I’ll share different other things that we’ve tried with my own zebras to give you a quick start.

  • -where? In which room are they more comfortable to study in? It can even be outside.
  • -when? Is your zebra a morning person or a night owl? Before or after being physically active?
  • -how? Sitting at a desk, table, kitchen bar, at a standing desk, laying on the hard floor, on the carpet, walking around?
  • -light? Do they need a lot of natural light or not?
  • -noise level? Some people work better in a noisy environment, some need perfect silence. Earplugs for noise reduction can be helpful. Little advice here: avoid noise that would take their brain away like music with lyrics in a language they speak or television. Can be music (classical can work great) or nature sounds.
  • -fidget? Do they need to be doing something with their hands or touching something to stay focus?
  • -timer? Does it help when you limit the time they have to do a task? Some find it helpful, others stressful.
  • -planner? Put everything they have to do on a weekly planner, so they visualize it all at once.

Explore, experiment and find your blend!


[1] What is ADHD? | CDC

[2] 3 Types of Memory: Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Memory | Weyland Brain Nutrition (getweyland.com)

[3] Mind map – Wikipedia here for a definition from a non-commercial website

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Bérengère Ferrari

Bérengère Ferrari

Certified professional coach but also a zebra, sister of zebras, mother of zebras, aunt of zebra, cousin of zebras and… friend of many zebras. Told you: we are a herd!

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