Does your child jump right into an activity without thinking twice about asking how to do it? Is he unusually coordinated for his age? Perhaps he’s a kinesthetic learner.

There are three main types of learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (physical). Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet, licensed clinical social worker and coordinator of Parents Place Express, explains that although most children start out as kinesthetic learners, by second or third grade their true learning style begins to come into focus. According to Moskowitz-Sweet ,a kinesthetic learner “needs to be engaged to get it.”

So how do you know if your preschooler is a physical learner or just an active kid? “Half of all students remain kinesthetic at some level,” states Moskowitz-Sweet. However, if you observe the following traits in your child over time, it could be indicative of a kinesthetic learning style. Physical learners generally need to:

  • Touch, feel, and handle things.
  • Try it themselves first. They will not want to see a demonstration.
  • Move their bodies in order to learn something new. For example, this type of learner may read a book with his left hand while bouncing a basketball with his right. 
  • Show rather than tell.

Unfortunately, some kinesthetic learners are mislabeled as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), when all they need is a sprint down the hall and back again to regain their focus. Moskowitz-Sweet offers the following tips to help your kinesthetic learner thrive in school

  • Talk up auditions for the school play. The dramatic arts can be a wonderful outlet for kinesthetic learners.
  • Encourage exploring outside the classroom. If she’s walking along the beach, feeling the sand in her toes, touching shells, she is learning.
  • Encourage him to take notes, draw diagrams, and make models.
  • Quiz her on her vocabulary during a walk around the block, or review spelling while kicking a soccer ball back and forth. Repetitive physical activity is key.
  • Try to send your child to a school that has mandatory physical education. Many schools are cutting P.E. programs, and it is the kinesthetic learners who suffer most.

As a parent it is vital you partner with your child’s teacher and become active in the school. The more in touch you are with your child’s unique way of learning, the better you can assist her teachers in giving her the tools she needs to succeed.