Do you have a member of the family or a student who is a Sketching Learner?Here are some clues: doodles, doodles, doodles — all over the place!

Sketching Learners fall under the broader category of Tactile-Kinesthetic Learners; they need touch and movement. In school, touch and movement are normally interpreted as disruptive rather than intelligent behaviors. This can also be the case for those who teach their children at home. The traditional system has taught us that one should sit up straight and still at a desk while quietly reading, writing or listening to a lesson.

Tactile-Kinesthetic Learners need touch and movement in order to learn. The Sketching Learner needs a specific type of touch and movement: drawing or sketching.

These students need to be encouraged to doodle and draw while listening, thinking, even doing worksheets. Sketching Learners know this intuitively; that is why you will find them doodling on their math paper, in between the paragraphs of their essay, and in the margins of their workbooks. (I still get reports of students being sent to the principal's office for doodling on a worksheet!)

Please --- allow them to doodle. In fact, encourage them to doodle.

Sketching Learners can better listen to and process verbal as well as written information, when they are doodling. Doodling frees up their brains to listen and think, sort of like knitting does. Many Sketching Learners can go a step further and learn to take picture notes when listening or reading. Doodling and/or drawing of actual pictures, symbols, etc., can increase comprehension, memory for tests, and ability to write.

Even chores can be facilitated. If your Sketching Learners have trouble remembering their chores or assignments, experiment with suggesting that they draw pictures instead of writing lists. They could also make picture charts that are posted in appropriate places or kept in their notebooks.

Sketching is a powerful tool for processing information and increasing memory and comprehension.

Students who are Sketching Learners grow up to be adults who are Sketching Learners! If someone teaches them about learning styles and the Sketching Modality, they will learn how to use this strength in their everyday lives and on the job.

If you are a Sketching Learner and did not learn about this modality when you were growing up, here are some tips: 

If you are a doodler, congratulate yourself. This is a wonderful modality and you can use it to your benefit. Be aware of your need to doodle or sketch while you are thinking, listening to a speaker, attending a business meeting, or even having a conversation with a friend. Begin doing it consciously and with awareness. Be confident about your doodling and stop apologizing for it (if that's what you've been doing). 

Sketching is a powerful tool for processing information and increasing memory and comprehension. Experiment with taking picture notes at meetings or workshops.

Just as young people can draw their own chore or assignment charts, adults can draw their own to-do lists, appointment schedules, project plans, goal charts, etc. Try it, and see if your doodles and sketches increase your energy for tasks that would otherwise appear on boring written lists or be lost among calendar pages.

In certain situations, you might want to explain what you are doing. For example, if you are speaking with a friend who might think you are not paying attention to the conversation, you might simply state, “Let me just grab my pen here; it helps me listen better if I'm doodling.”

If you are a parent or teacher, remember that when you acknowledge learning style needs, you honor the special gifts God has given to each child. You allow the Spirit of God to speak through you to say to that child, “You are special, you are gifted, you are loved. Take your gift into the world and love others with it.”

©2012 by Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis, M.S.

Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis is a California credentialed teacher and holds a Master's Degree in Special Education. She is co-author, with Victoria Kindle Hodson, of "Discover Your Child's Learning Style" (Random House) and "Midlife Crisis Begins in Kindergarten." For many years a Master Catechist for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, she attends Mission San Buenaventura. She can be reached at [email protected]