While many children have no problem learning their reading, writing and arithmetic by sitting at an assigned desk and completing worksheets, many others aren’t so lucky. They have trouble sitting at their desks for extended periods of time; they need to move around and touch things to learn most effectively.
In the past, these kids were considered hyperactive and difficult. Now we know better. These students aren’t being difficult. They just learn differently. They are kinesthetic learners. They learn best when they can move around and engage their small and large muscle groups.
Oftentimes, kinesthetic learners feel their way of learning isn’t as good because they can’t “sit and do the work,” but there are lots of ways to maximize their learning style.
Kinesthetic Learners Usually:
- Move around a lot
- Like to touch people they’re talking to
- Tap their pencil or foot while doing schoolwork
- Enjoy physical activities
- Take frequent breaks when studying
- Do not spend a lot of time reading
- Have difficulty spelling correctly
- Like to solve problems by physically working through them
- Like to try new things
- Are coordinated and agile
- Are considered hyperactive
- Express their feelings physically, such as hugging and hitting
- Move their hands when they talk
- Dress for comfort, instead of style
- Lie on the floor or bed when studying
- Enjoy touching things
- Have difficulty sitting still for extended periods of time
- Excel in athletics and the performing arts
Strategies to Help Kinesthetic Learners Succeed:
Provide your child with hands-on learning tools, including:
- An abacus (a manual math tool with horizontal rods and moveable beads)
- Modeling clay
- Number lines
- Sandpaper or carpet (Children can use their finger to trace letters and draw shapes on textured surfaces to help retain the information.)
- Drawing materials
- Wooden numbers and letters
- Globes and maps
- Blocks and cubes
- Felt boards
- A geoboard with rubber bands (a square board with pegs used to teach shapes and geometric concepts)
Provide your child with hands-on learning opportunities, including:
- Field trips
Kinesthetic learners do things differently, but that doesn’t mean they do them worse.
Encourage your child to study in several short blocks of time, instead of one extended time period. Teach concepts with concrete examples; for example, teach "greater than" and "less than" with a crocodile puppet, rather than just numbers on a chalkboard. Have your child memorize information while moving. Kids can walk, skip or jump rope as they're learning the material. They don't need to sit at a desk, at least at home! Encourage your child to clap out sounds or syllables in words.
With a little help, kinesthetic learners can find tricks and techniques that make the system work in their favor. They just need some motion with their math, some rev with their reading. So get moving on getting them on the move!