Learning is accomplished a number of ways. Many people complain that they can only absorb something by reading a book. Others insist that they must be taught. I, myself, seem to study better using video courses followed by reference material. I certainly retain more when I can visualize or walk through the subject or task. I call it learning on a need to know basis.
These styles and more have been developed by a combination of our upbringing, education and career. Other aspects, that are difficult to measure, can be involved as well.
Ailments such as Dyslexia, Dysnomia and vision problems can all severely affect the information gathering process.
There is, however, one important aspect to consider when encouraging your child to perform tasks that require new knowledge. This is the notion of Active versus Passive Learning.
A workplace page on the U.S. Dept. of Justice web-site, of all places, summarizes it best. Let's repeat what the page says here...
"Studies show that over a period of 3 days, the retention of learning is as follows:
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we say
90% of what we say as we do"
get a web page!
This supports what I have always called getting my information on a need to know basis. In my particular field, I've always had mountains of technical jargon to read through. Simply reading it would inevitably put me to sleep. Instead, I found that by referring back to the information in search of specific answers, I would retain much more of the detail. I would, in the process, take better notes. Whenever I took notes, I had almost memorized the subject matter.
So too is the case for writing short stories. A child will learn less by reading a story but will gain many different skills by writing one. The child will be put in the active position of considering vocabulary, grammar, spelling, phrasing and wrap it all up with editing.
As an example, if a child encounters a new word through reading, the word may never be brought to your attention, and its definition is neither discovered nor absorbed.
If, on the other hand, the child needs a new word to express a thought in a story, you can bet they will come to you looking for an answer, thereby enhancing his/her vocabulary. The experience, vocalization, listening and eventual writing or keyboarding will prove far more beneficial.
On the downside there are many disorders like Dyslexia and Dyscalculia that will affect a child's ability to read and write and limit other forms of expression.