This is part 4 of 4 in a series about learning styles. You can read part 1 here.
Does your child never stop moving? Does she like to get her hands on things and tend to "jump right in" to try out an activity? If so, your child may be a kinesthetic learner. A child’s learning style is his or her preferred method of learning; the way he processes and remembers information. Kinesthetic learners process information best by doing; by touching, feeling, and experiencing, rather than hearing or seeing. Another way of thinking of kinesthetic learners, according to Cynthia Tobias, learning styles author and researcher, is that they are "born to move". Preschoolers and young children all tend to be kinesthetic learners, with other learning styles (visual, auditory, etc.) emerging later. The following are characteristics of kinesthetic learners:
- Move around constantly
- Lose interest if they can’t do something active
- Enjoy physical activities
- Like lots of space in which to work and play
- Move their hands when they talk
- Have difficulty sitting still for extended periods of time
- Move quickly from one thing to the next
- Tend to be sensitive to the physical world, how things feel, clothing, etc.
- Notice and appreciate texture
- Enjoy physical activities and sports
- Impatiently want to get to the "bottom line" rather than listen to details or explanations
- Think or process best when moving around
- Take frequent breaks when studying
- Do not spend a lot of time reading
- Prefer non-desk positions for studying, such as lying on the bed
- Uses experiential words, such as "What do you want me to do" or "Let me try"
According to Wikipedia, approximately 15% of the population are kinesthetic learners. Boys tend to have a higher incidence of this learning style, and there is a growing consensus that a number of public school students (often boys) labeled as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are, in fact, simply kinesthetic learners who are not given the opportunity to move. Fortunately, homeschooling is the perfect scenario for a "born to move" kid; each day can be tailored directly to the child’s needs for movement and experiential learning. The following are some simple ways to encourage a child to process kinesthetically:
- Use ergonomic, comfortable chairs for times the child works at a desk
- Do lessons away from a desk – on the bed, on the floor, or wherever the child is comfortable
- Use lots of experiments in Science
- Use Math manipulatives
- Play games to reinforce learning, such as phonics Bingo, Uno for Math, etc.
- Take frequent breaks from teaching to allow the child to move
- Teach lessons while the child is swinging on the swingset
- Read a book while the child plays with clay or colors
- Teach a new concept while going on a walk
- Design activities and projects to be done in short spurts
- Allow the child to stand or rock in a rocking chair during lessons
- Use physical movement to teach concepts, such as having the child shoot a basket for each multiplication table he says out loud
- Have children act out a new concept
- Use hands-on learning tools such as blocks, puzzles, globes, models, felt boards, abacus, play-dough, markers and crayons, scissors, 3-D letters, etc.
- Have child clap or tap out numbers or syllables for words
©2010 Rebecca Capuano
Rebecca Capuano is a stay-at-home Mom who homeschools her two children. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from East Carolina University, and has worked in a variety of capacities (including group homes, day treatment centers, and public schools) with at-risk children and staff, including developing a therapeutic and educational day treatment center for delinquent youth in Wilmington, North Carolina. Currently, she writes for Examiner.com as the Roanoke Homeschooling Examiner, and serves as a Copy Writer for Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV). She also does periodic training and consulting with school systems to help staff work effectively with at-risk youth. Rebecca believes that family is created by God as the most fundamental institution in society, and she is dedicated to helping families nurture their children to become responsible persons of character and integrity.