Kids are active, some more than others. And, occasionally, those active kids are labeled as difficult students or challenged learners. This is not always the case. Those wiggly kids might need a bit more attention due to being kinesthetic learners, or children that best understand new information when learned in a physical way or by working things out tactilely. Kinetic learners are also considered tactile learners, which means the act of touching and using the hands and body is additionally beneficial to learning.There are three different types of learning – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Visual learners learn through visual activities, auditory best through listening, and kinesthetic through movement and activity. Characteristics of a kinesthetic learner include enjoying participating in sports and physical activities, having good coordination skills, using hands to gesture often, and enjoying spending time outdoors. These are wonderful characteristics for a child along with a motivating force to continually participate in physical activities with your child. But, along with having positive attributes, being a kinesthetic learner also has some aspects that can be demanding.
Kinesthetic learners are often easily distracted by others, have difficulty sitting or staying in one place long, and find moving while learning to be beneficial and even necessary in some cases. Educators and parents may tag these traits as problematic when in actuality the child’s learning style has not been taken into consideration. Once it is understood that the child is a tactile/kinesthetic learner, there are easy ways parents and educators can adapt teaching and parenting moments to aid in learning and development.
Kinesthetic Learning in School or Home
According to FamilyEducation.com, most school-aged children benefit from kinesthetic learning activities where touching, feeling, and experiencing is allowed, especially at the preschool and kindergarten level. As the child develops, her personality and learning style evolves, and parents and educators can specify through observation and interactions what type of learning style best fits the child. But, even if a child is a visual or auditory learner, tactile and kinesthetic learning experiences are still beneficial just as visual and auditory activities also benefit kinesthetic learners.
When teaching and learning with a kinesthetic child there are simple ways parents and educators can tap into the child’s inner need to move and touch. Try tactics such as:
Take Five: Kinesthetic learners can easily be led off track by what is happening around them. Within the classroom, create a spot where kinesthetic learners can go to take a break when they are feeling overwhelmed or distracted. They can count and do ten jumping jacks, set a timer for one minute and see how many times they can hop in place, or rock in a rocking chair for an allotted amount of time. Encourage the child to do activities quietly so as not to disturb other children within the classroom. Or, if at home, take short study breaks often with your child and do a quick dance party or game of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.
Take Notes: Either at home or in the classroom, offer a pencil and paper to the kinesthetic learner to take notes or draw while learning. This offers the child the opportunity to stay active but in a contained and controlled way. Also, the act of writing encourages the child to remember learning facts and stay motivated. Along with a paper and pencil, offer a colored marker for the child to underline facts they find most important or interesting while writing. This way when she goes back to take another look at her notes, she’ll focus on the items that she highlighted.
Stay Active: Integrate movement activities or hands-on opportunities while introducing information to the kinesthetic child. Playing physical games are a wonderful way to learn math concepts. Try throwing and catching a ball while counting, or adding and subtracting the amount of baskets a child can make. Within the classroom, integrate clapping while singing the A,B,C’s or saying the multiplication tables. At home the child can head outdoors and jump rope while being quizzed on spelling words for an upcoming test.
Kinesthetic children are tactile, vivacious, energetic, and enthusiastic. They just need a helping hand to lead them in learning, as well as opportunities to move their bodies within the environment.
By Sarah Lipoff. Sarah is an art educator and parent. Visit Sarah’s website here.