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Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence in the Early Childhood Classroom (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Bodily/Kinesthetic Modalities

Bodily/kinesthetic intelligence presents itself in many domains in the early childhood classroom. It is important to keep in mind that bodily/kinesthetic intelligence manifests itself in a variety of forms. Children may have a preference, interest, or ability in one form of expression as opposed to another. The modalities of bodily/kinesthetic intelligence can be categorized into three different forms of expression: dramatic, industrial, and recreational (Jensen, 2001).

Dramatics Jensen (2001) explains that dramatics encompasses domains such as dance, drama, mime, theater, musicals, choreography, media play, and improvisation. This aspect of bodily/kinesthetic intelligence is often neglected. However, the ability to role-play and use the body in expressive ways is an important part of bodily/kinesthetic intelligence.

Dramatics can be encouraged in the early childhood classroom through dance, dramatic play, and expressive bodily movements. Mirrors can encourage dramatics and allow the child to assess their dramatic interpretations and expressions.

Industrial Industrial arts refer to the functional aspect of bodily/kinesthetic intelligence. Industrial arts include woodworking, auto repair, metalworking, construction, sculpting, and design (Jensen, 2001). Industrial arts has had a traditionally negative association and some people associate "slower" children with attendance at a trade school. However, this view is simply not accurate. All children can benefit emotionally, physically, and cognitively from participation in industrial arts. Industrial arts makes a significant contribution to healthy brain growth and promotes self-confidence and mastery (Jensen, 2001).

Participation in industrial arts can be encouraged in the early childhood classroom by providing tools for children’s use. A woodworking table encourages motor manipulation, creativity, construction, and design. An art center can provide the child access to a variety of visual art materials to encourage one-, two-, and three-dimensional representations using sculpture, paint, and paper. A discovery center can include radios, telephones, computers, and appliances for children to take apart.

Recreational Recreational arts include exercise, rough-and-tumble play, games, scavenger hunts, adventures, obstacle courses, and sports (Jensen, 2001). It is important to point out that recreational arts involve enjoyment. They are not something the child is forced to participate in or does not enjoy. These are arts that one chooses in leisure time.

The recreational arts can be incorporated in the early childhood classroom through choice during free play or through organized adventures, competitions, and games, such as scavenger hunts, games, and obstacle courses.

The Brain and Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence

Physical movement in itself is crucial to brain development and learning. Hannaford (1995) explains that physical movement is responsible for the creation of new nerve-cell networks. These networks can be considered the "essence of learning."

Eric Jensen summarizes the neuro-scientific validation for bodily and kinesthetic development. Jensen (2001, p. 71) explains that contemporary brain research concludes that kinesthetic arts "contributes to the development and enhancement of critical neurobiological systems, including cognition, emotions, immune, circulatory, and perceptual-motor.” Exercise and movement increase blood flow (which has been linked to better cognitive performance), increase levels of brain cell–growth hormone, and have been shown to have a positive effect on neurotransmitters—the mood-altering chemicals of the brain (Jensen, 2001; Hannaford, 1995). The chemicals that are released during exercise help the body focus, increase attention, and help the body feel better (Hannaford, 1995).

Incorporating dramatic, recreational, and industrial arts into the early childhood classroom has significant impact on the developing brain (Jensen, 2001). Dramatic arts have been shown to develop creativity, improve self-concept, aid in ability to follow directions, improve timing and coordination, encourage expression, increase social skills, and encourage emotional attunement (Jensen, 2001). They also aid in the development of cognition and activate the systems that control memory and attention (Jensen, 2001). Industrial arts encourage memory, visualization, cognition, and intrinsic motivation, which improve and coordinate brain function (Jensen, 2001). Recreational arts allow the brain to relax. Relaxation permits the individual to try out cultural roles in a nonthreatening environment (Jensen, 2001). Many research studies have suggested that an integrated arts program increases cognitive performance and helps more children reach appropriate grade-level expectations (see studies cited in Jensen, 2001).

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