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How to teach a Kinesthetic Learner

We learn every day in just life experiences and how we approach life and events can help us clearly determine our learning style. I encourage you to find out the learning styles and personality traits of all of your children before you begin to teach them! It will also be helpful to know your own. Even if you can’t fully relate to my examples given, you will be able to get an idea of how adjusting your teaching to match your child's learning style works for you. Once you understand how YOU approach learning you will be able to recognize how you teach your children and why. If you are teaching your child based off how you learn, you may find yourself at war with your child for each lesson. If you have a child who is a kinesthetic learner, a basic approach will most likely drive you crazy as they are moving and fidgeting and seemingly not retaining the lessons at all! (Yes, I have one of these learners). You may need to approach the lesson a bit differently for them.

A Kinesthethic Learner is...

What is a kinesthetic learner? How do you know if you have one? And for heavens sake, how do you TEACH one!? I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know about homeschooling a kinesthetic learner. When you consider a child’s learning style, kinesthetic learners (who require movement to learn) are tactile learners (who require hands-on learning), traditional classroom environments can be the biggest obstacle to learning. Very often, the children who can’t succeed in these classrooms are labelled ADD or ADHD. I knew right away Silahudeen required special attention when learning because he was so busy. I had no idea, when I started homeschooling him how I would be able to get him to focus long enough to learn anything. The truth is he was learning ALL the time! Even when it seemed that he was not paying attention because he was moving all around, he would be able to recall information. Silahudeen thinks hands on, he is a doer, loves action, touching everything, extremely physical (roughhousing, cuddly, physical love language), etc.

1. Kinesthetic learners need to move!

They wiggle, tap, swing their legs, bounce, and often just can’t seem to sit still. They learn through their bodies and their sense of touch.

2. Kinesthetic learners have excellent “physical” memory. They learn quickly and retain information when they are moving. So they learn as they do, basically.

3. Kinesthetic learners are often gifted in physical activities like, running, swimming, dancing, soccer and playing ball or combat sports.

4. Kinesthetic learners are typically very coordinated and have an excellent sense of their body in space and of body timing.

They have great hand-eye coordination and quick reactions (impulsive with body movements as well).

5. Kinesthetic learners have trouble sitting still. At school: Let them move! If you tell them they can stand up, swing their legs, or even pace the floor as long as they are not disrupting the others, their performance will improve.

Get Tactical!

Tactile learners learn through fine motor movements and need hands on activity and instruction in order to retain information. They are more moderate than kinesthetic learners who require whole body movement, however their learning styles are very similar. The kinesthetic child will need more supplemental activities outside of their learning environment to use their energy.

1. Teach through Touch!

Incorporate related motions into teaching is one way to strengthen the learning experience for the kinesthectic learner.

2. Kinesthectic learners express their learning best with projects.

They learn better when creating mini-books, games, skits, models, building blocks, art materials, and working with math manipulatives.

3. Get creative with your learning tools. They will focus more easily with objects to manipulate instead of always staring at the computer screen or using paper and pencil.

Difficulties & Solutions!

Kinesthetic learners lose interest quickly, especially if they have built up energy they have not been able to release.

1. Have them start their day with free play before learning or working on a model or project if they are older. Boys may enjoy running or playing in the back yard before doing school work. While your kenesthetic daughter may enjoy some yoga, aerobics or dance before working.

2. Be creative, use novelty and change where you teach a lesson in order to help break up long periods of time when your child would be sitting in the same place too long. Let the child sit on the floor, in a bean bag or next to you on the sofa or bed while reading. Try teaching outside sometimes. Use the desk sparingly (But still use the desk!) Keep intensive teaching moments short. Fifteen minute intervals work extremely well with Kinesthetic learners.

3. Let their creativity flow.

Encouraging them to synthesize their learning by sketching what they learned is a great way for them to retain information. Even if they're not very artistic they will still enjoy the visualization and break from writing. It's all about keeping it interesting.

4. Keep intensive teaching moments short.

Fifteen minute intervals work extremely well with Kinesthetic learners. For example, do a math lesson, then take a break to run around the yard, do somersaults on the floor or do a physical activity of the child's choosing. Then do some reading or writing.

5. Kinesthetic learners have difficulty following steps and procedures- not because they can't but because they're are more interested in the end result.

Share with your child the goal or what the desired final "product" is. Next, share the suggested steps and have the child imagine doing them. Ask your child if they believe the steps will produce the desired outcome. Listen and adjust as needed if the outcome will be the same. They may have a better way! Like I often say, "Let them be great"! As long as they get to the end result, don't micromanage their learning abilities. This was especially difficult for me because I suffered from the (My way is best complex) I have now learned to take a step back, observe and give support as needed.

6. Kinesthetic learners can become overwhelmed easily.

Teach them to use deep breathing and relaxation techniques to help with focus. Help them learn to organize their work into individual tasks, put them in order of priority and focus on just one at a time.

7. Share with your child that they have powerful learning gifts and that visuals make learning fun and their body movement is a tool for remembering. A child can be their own best helper/learner once they understand their learning style. They also need to know that their behavior is not always a "problem" or "bad". We must learn to treat the kinesthetic learning style as evidence of an unique learning ability rather than the evidence of a disability or behavior problem.

Have FUN with your Kinesthetic Learner!

In the end, yes, a kinesthetic learner may be difficult at times, especially if that is not your learning style at all. Traditional school format often doesn’t relate to them. It can be VERY frustrating when you are teaching the basic fundamentals and just want them to sit still and focus on the lesson. I encourage you to get creative, think outside the box, get those hands on resources that make learning fun and just go with it! Experiment with some of these strategies and let me know what works for you! As a homeschool mom to my own kinesthetic learner, I am always on the prowl for more ideas to add to my arsenal. Please share some of your resources!

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