In this fourth and final segment of our series on learning styles, we turn our attention to kinesthetic learners. These students are “doers" and acquire new information best when they are able to fully immerse themselves in the learning experience.
How Kinesthetic Learners Receive and Reproduce Information
Kinesthetic learners internalize information when they are able to manipulate the information with body movement. Hands-on activities, tactile materials, and movement will help these children retain information best.
When asked to reproduce information learned, they perform best by doing. They may give a presentation by showing other students how to do something. They may show competence by re-enacting a story, or spell best when building words with tiles. These students are active and may be overly eager to participate in activities that require any type of movement.
Characteristics of kinesthetic learners
- They have strong and active bodies and may be extremely energetic.
- They learn through touching, tasting, spelling, or experiencing with their hands or bodies.
- They often daydream.
- Physical comfort is important (comfortable chair, correct sitting position, clothing texture to their taste, etc.).
- They use their hands or bodies to gesture a thought.
- They have the ability to teach others to do things.
- They are overwhelmed by having to listen to a lot of words.
- They enjoy working or playing alone or with a specific friend.
- They normally have good hand-eye coordination.
- They are good at integrating parts into a whole.
- They need to make physical contact, and this requires a lot of energy.
- They possess a tri-dimensional capacity to construct images (from various perspectives).
- They possess the physical control necessary for athletics, building items, etc.
General Strategies to Help Kinesthetic Learners Reach Their Potential
When teaching kinesthetic learners, it’s important to emphasize the “how" of the concept. Explain something in terms of how to do it, how it functions, and how it might feel. Promote concept learning by allowing the student to make direct use of her body and use concrete activities that give life to diagrams or visual information.
Encourage the child to move while working so that he remains alert and attentive. Establish casual physical contact to meet her need for physical proximity.
Have the student act out stories and look for tangible and concrete examples for math activities. Try to teach math concepts outside. Use manipulatives to help teach students different concepts (clocks, coins, base 10 blocks, etc.).
Ideas for Teaching
Read the students a story and have them draw out the events as you are reading. After reading, ask the students to explain their drawings and (if desired), write a summary, log file, comic, etc. Or, you may want to ask students to recreate a story that they studied, read or heard by drawing pictures and then creating a picture book or acting it out.
To reinforce a new concept, have students explain it by putting on a presentation using puppets. Alternatively, you could let the students create a model or use concrete materials to explain a concept or subject and have them present this information to the class.
Give students drawings that they need to put in order. Then give the students strips of paper with sentences describing the pictures and have them place the sentences in the correct place in accordance with the pictures.
Spelling and Vocabulary Activities
- Let the students play “spelling-ball" to review the words for a spelling test. The students should use parts of their bodies to create the letters correctly and in sequence for them to be able to move to the next base.
- With their bodies, have each student make one letter of a word. The last child should say spell out and say the word for the class.
- Play Scrabble or Boggle Jr. with vocabulary that is being studied by the class.
- For students who are committing reversals, have them trace the number with different colors of pens or glue rice or fabric to the shape of the number.
- Use foods to teach concepts such as addition, subtraction or fractions.
- Give each student a specific order of operations and have them stand up whenever it is their turn to do a step in a problem.
- Use different materials and fabrics to teach about measurement.
- Have students act out word problems. Have them create their own word problems and use gestures only and have classmates try and guess what the word problem is asking.
- Use dice or make dice to play number games and talk about probability.
Make sure that the area in which the child is working has an adequate quantity of light, good air flow and an appropriate temperature. Reduce the amount of written work the child is doing at home and substitute it with oral work or an activity that involves movement.
The quiet task of reading may seem quite boring to the kinesthetic learner. To add some motion to the exercise, teach the student to follow along with his index finger as he reads. When studying handwriting with the child, use your finger to write the word on his back and ask the child to write the word afterwards.
Kinesthetic learners are often thought to have attention difficulties or learning disorders. Sometimes just a little bit more movement and a few hands-on activities are all that is needed to help children focus and be successful in the classroom. Creative teachers and parents will notice the difference in a kinesthetic student’s learning when a little effort is put in!