Do you prefer to actively participate in an activity rather than passively? Are your children always fidgeting while they are working on their schoolwork? Would your spouse rather conduct business or have a conversation while holding something in their hand? If you answered yes to any of these, there is a kinesthetic learner in your family.
When trying to recognize a kinesthetic learner, look for the following “tells”. When a kinesthetic learner is deep in thought, they will generally look at their hands as their fingers or thumbs are moving, or they will doodle seemingly aimlessly. They will often seek to please you by doing something that they hope will help. Sitting and listening is not easy for them. They are always moving.
If given a choice of activities, they will often choose something that allows for movement and active participation. Kinesthetic learners will generally jump right in to a new situation. They prefer to learn as they go. As young children, they can be mistaken for a child with ADHD or some other challenge due to their propensity to get up and move, or sit and fidget. A lot. They learn best while doing something. As you read to them, let them point to things in the pictures, or turn the pages, or perhaps quietly color or build with blocks as they listen. Spelling can go more smoothly, and be learned more completely, if you have them finger-spell (ASL alphabet) or do some kind of movement (jumping jacks, march in place, etc.) as they learn their lists. Movement engages their brain’s pathways for retention. Working with it rather than against it can be satisfying to you both.
When a kinesthetic learner is upset, they will often say nothing. You can read their emotions all over their body-clenched fists, drawn brows, stomping feet. When they are excited, they jump up and down, grin, wave their hands in the air. Rewards come in the form of making their work and your approval easily felt-hugs, high fives, pats on the back, or do a little dance with them.
Some of the most successful tools for teaching kinesthetic learners include:
- coloring books
- crafts/art supplies
- science kits
- building kits
- time lines they create
- American Sign Language