Kinesthetic learning is one of the three main learning types among children, the other two being visual and auditory learning. It is also the category that best describes the greatest proportion of young learners, representing over a third of children. Yet, traditional teaching methods rarely take this fact into account.
The average classroom is a place where children are expected to sit still and listen to lectures in order to learn. Videos or images are often incorporated into the lesson. but not motion or other physical involvement Students who are constantly moving are likely to be reprimanded and branded unruly, when the truth is that their physical activity is crucial to their academic success.
This outdated viewpoint is quickly being replaced as more parents and educators become educated on the particular requirements of kinesthetic learners. The path to better education for these children begins with understand what kinesthetic learning means.
What is Kinesthetic Learning?
Kinesthesia is essentially defined as awareness of one’s body in space. Intuitively understanding the motions of our limbs, performing acts involving hand eye coordination. all engage the kinesthetic sense.
Kinesthetic learners are children that need motion and physical interactivity to learn. Their brains are particularly adept at understanding things that incorporate movement. Obvious applications of this would be sports, or playing instruments involving manual dexterity.
However, the benefit of motion to the comprehension of new ideas and concepts is not limited to activities that automatically involve such movement Kinesthetic kids may seem to always be in motion, engaging their hands. fidgeting, bouncing in their seats, tapping their feet or pacing. When this need to move is incorporated into the teaching process, it helps them to better understand and learn any subject.
How to Teach Kinesthetic Children
The first consideration is movement. A kinesthetic child must be allowed to move. This isn’t to say they should be allowed to run wild in a classroom, but non-obstructive movement should not be interfered with.
However, these children can be easily distracted by physical activity. It is often said their attention follows what their hands are doing. While this may seem like a problem, it is actually something that can be harnessed to their benefit.
Motion and physical interaction should always be a part of the teaching process for kinesthetics. They have exceptional physical memory, easily retaining knowledge of the things they actually do. Allow them to act out scenes from history, perform transactions to comprehend math problems. Have them spell words with blocks or recreate scenarios with figurines. All of these methods can help solidify concepts in their minds.
This level of engagement also helps to combat a tendency to lose interest over an extended period. It is recommended that teachers vary their methods often. Creative and novel approaches will keep these children involved.
It also helps to allow them freedom to approach a problem in their own way. This grants the child agency in their own education, and with kinesthetic learners it allows them to express their more intuitive approach to solving things.
That tendency towards intuition can create particular trouble with learning specific problem solving methods Following step by step procedures is often difficult for these children. Parents and teachers are advised to create visualizations of processes, or to have the children act out each step in some way to help them work through it.
A final set of considerations deals with the role general physical discomfort plays in the education of these students. Kinesthetic learners have increased awareness of their bodies. As such, things effecting them physically tend to have a more acute impact than with other children.
When one of these kids seems particularly unengaged, it is important to consider their physical circumstances. Are they too hot or cold? Are they hungry or tired? Are they uncomfortable at their desk, or otherwise feeling restricted in their space?
With the addition of strong physical sensory input kinesthetic learners can become easily overwhelmed in a classroom setting. Teaching them basic relaxation techniques is an effective way to combat this. Breathing exercises in particular have proven effective.
The classroom of the future will be attuned to the specific learning preferences of each individual child. To reach that point requires that we first understand what these preferences are and how best to serve them. Kinesthetic learners have suffered the most due to the perceived difficulty of meeting their needs, but that is finally beginning to change.