One second they’re tapping their foot against the floor, the next they’re juggling with the socks you just paired, and then they’re building a fort with the living room throw blankets. Kinesthetic learners are easy to spot because they learn by doing.
The idea of learning styles has become more fluid over the past decade or so—these “styles” are now viewed as “preferences.” But it remains true that tailoring your kids’ educational experiences to their dominant learning processes is likely to excite and engage them.
If you think you’ve got a kinesthetic learner in your household, here are some ideas to turn all that action into education.
What is a kinesthetic learner?
Kinesthetic learners solve problems and process information using real life—they love doing, especially using body movement. It’s similar to tactile learning, except tactile learners tend to be slightly less physically active and more focused on experiences and touch. Both kinesthetic and tactile learners respond well to experiential learning and nontraditional schedule structures.
Strengths of kinesthetic learners
Kinesthetic learners tend to…
- Have excellent hand-eye coordination and agility
- Easily remember how to do tasks a second time after doing them once
- Have great timing
- Be enthusiastic and boisterous
- Enjoy playing games with others
Strategies for kinesthetic learners
Kinesthetic learners thrive when given structured physical activities with built-in breaks and lots of movement. They are often misunderstood as having attention disorders or lacking focus, but they just need a personalized approach to learning.
Try the following for engaging them with schoolwork:
- Take them outside and throw a ball around or take a walk while reviewing vocabulary or other repetitive material.
- Provide a stress ball or fidget spinner for them to hold while they read or sit at a table doing homework.
- Keep scratch paper around for them to doodle on while they listen.
- Don’t react negatively if they’re fidgeting, switching positions, or swinging their legs and tapping their feet—it’s part of their process.
- Create a study space with different shapes, textures, and environments (for example, a hard chair and a beanbag and a floor mat).
- Break the day up into shorter chunks and move quickly from one activity to the next.
How to engage your kinesthetic learner at home
To help your kinesthetic learner not only stay on task but thrive in their educational experiences, try:
- Showing them how to do tasks around the house while you’re explaining them and requesting that they do them
- Engaging in role play activities to help them better understand emotions, historical events, or stories
- Playing games like catch, pickup basketball, Jenga, Twister, Dance Dance Revolution, tag, hide and seek, or sardines
- Visiting nearby parks and playgrounds frequently
- Cooking with them—putting them to work chopping vegetables or mixing ingredients for family meals
- Having them help you fold laundry, vacuum, or do yard work
- Encouraging pretend play, dance, yoga, and other physical forms of relaxation
- Encouraging them to engage in imaginary play or put on a performance
- Helping them conduct science experiments
- Visiting the beach or a sandbox
- Going on nature walks
- Buying blocks, puzzles, tumble mats, and balls for them to play with
- Designating a space in your home where tumbling, kicking, jumping, and spinning are all okay—no breakable items, no worries
Doesn’t sound like your child?
If some of or all of this doesn’t sound right, your child might have one of these learning preferences:
- Visual learner: Learns best via sight including graphics, charts, and pictures
- Auditory learner: Learns best via conversation and asking questions
- Reading and writing learner: Learns best via the written word
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