I felt like I had won the teacher jackpot the day that I had 31 rainbow-colored yoga balls delivered to my classroom. I spent the afternoon placing a ball on it’s “donut” for each desk in my classroom replacing every single one of my plastic chairs with these bouncing, rolling, and seemingly healthier-option balls.
The next morning after the first bell rang and I walked into my class, it felt like chaos! My teenaged students were rolling, bouncing, tapping, and jiggling on all 31 balls.
What a stark change from the day before, where the students sat still!
As the newness wore off and my students settled in, I began to see that my students enjoyed the benefits that the yoga balls provided. The wigglier students were able to stay seated longer, and the balls eventually were unnoticeable.
A simple change like this in my classroom provided a positive impact for my kinesthetic learners. Instead of being asked to sit still, I gave my students a healthier alternative allowing them to bounce while learning.
Engagement improved, and some of my “trouble” students started performing better.
Kinesthetic learners thrive when they are allowed to move. Traditional classrooms with traditional teaching can sometimes make them feel “stuck”.
Continuing in our “Learning Style” series, let’s investigate the ins and outs to our kinesthetic learners.
Characteristics of a Kinesthetic Learner
A kinesthetic learner prefers body movement over traditional instructional methods. They thrive in environments where there are hand motions, modeling mediums, and game-type scenarios to teach concepts.
Kinesthetic learners are often skilled athletes, artists, and enjoy trade courses such as shop or woodworking. They will never skip an opportunity to tinker (and disassemble).
Kinesthetic learners typically grow up to work with the body, whether as an EMT, athlete, physical therapist, or artist. They are not comfortable sitting behind a desk and will find their most joy working with others in a non-traditional profession.
At an early age, it is crucial to provide kinesthetic learners with brain breaks, dance moves to correspond with content, and ample opportunities to create samples of what they are learning (dioramas and storyboards, for example).
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Common Concerns for Kinesthetic Learners
Kinesthetic learners are always in motion. Whether they are tapping their pen, shaking their leg, or moving around the room, kinesthetic learners demand movement.
This can often frustrate teachers and perplex parents. Often, kinesthetic learners risk a misdiagnosis of ADD or ADHD, when they simply need to move!
Teachers can become frustrated with kinesthetic learners because of constant pen tapping, wiggling, drumming on the table (there was also a craze a few years ago with bottle flipping– that was a long winter as a teacher).
Kinesthetic learners enjoy having things like fidget cubes, brain teaser puzzles, silly putty, and even a small carpet square on their desk to tap on without noise!
If your child needs something for them to use for movement, always check with the teacher first, there are still ways to solve the problem to help a student learn.
Applying Kinesthetic Learning at School
The most obvious way to appeal to a kinesthetic learner is to provide them with opportunities to get up and moving.
A gallery walk-style presentation will engage them and support their preferred style of learning. But, try not to limit kinesthetic learners to simple body movement activities.
Kinesthetic learners also enjoy the physical process of writing and given the opportunity to write down information will prove to be valuable to them.
If they are learning about the fundamentals of an eye, reading a textbook could prove to be worthless to them; however, the dissection day (or virtual dissection) will give them the tactile experience that helps them more clearly understand the material.
In classes where there are fewer opportunities to use body movement for learning, encourage your kinesthetic learner to write down their notes and find moments during the day to get up and move (think a passing period or a lull in classtime, not in the middle of a lecture!).
Applying Learning Style at Home
Your child will love learning with hands-on tools. Think about things like building projects, tactile activities, pr even tossing a baseball around while reviewing facts. This will engage a kinesthetic learner.
One of the best skills that you can teach your kinesthetic learner is the art of time blocking.
Instead of dedicating 60 minutes each night to homework in a single sitting, create a schedule (or include your child in the creation) that will break the work into smaller, more manageable chunks.
For instance, “after school for 20 minutes: Math; before dinner for 20 minutes: social studies;” and so on. By teaching them how to break up the time into bite-sized pieces, they will be able to have more success in completing the work.
The most important thing to remember is that kinesthetic learners learn differently than other students.
Their methods and needs often are different and frustrating. By finding physical challenges that help them with their learning, you will be able to unlock their deepest learning needs and help challenge them to become better students in the process!
Engaging Activities for Kinesthetic Learners
Any opportunity for a kinesthetic learner to get up and moving is valuable. When thinking about ways to reinforce new information, think about how you could integrate the following activities.
Any chance that a kinesthetic learner can move is a guarantee that they will have a deeper understanding.
Kinesthetic learners also love to build. Using Legos, Magnatiles, or playdoh to demonstrate a concept will give your child a hands-on approach to learning.
ArgoPrep Resources for Kinesthetic Learners
ArgoPrep strives to provide enrichment to all types of learners, which is why they recently released a mindfulness resource for children who favor body movement and meditation as a means of academic growth, packed full of exercises and practices your child will love.
Your kinesthetic learner will love the colorful pictures and scenarios that accompany each activity. Use these exercises on their own or with daily homework to provide your child with the movement the crave!
There are so many ways that you can encourage your kinesthetic learner. If your child is struggling look for movement activities.
When you think outside of the box, you will find new ways to excite your child.
Remember that when you are engaging their motor skills, they are learning.