Kinaesthetic learning – the fun term that parents with highly energetic children have come to learn. For those who are scratching their head: kinaesthetic learning is one of four styles of learning designed by Walter Burke Barbe and later developed by Neil Fleming in 1987. He called it the VARK Model, which stands for Visual, Auditory, Read/Write and Kinaesthetic.
As a parent, you probably understand that each child is unique in their learning styles. The method in which they process information and retain the lessons taught varies. As a parent and educator, you should know your child’s primary learning preference so that you are able to help them grow, learn and develop. There are various ways in which a child can learn but the most accepted styles are Visual, Auditory, Read/Write and Kinaesthetic.
Visual: learning via pictures, diagrams, graphs, maps, etc. These types of learners make up most of the population.
Auditory: learning via audio books, lectures, speeches, group discussions, etc. Although not the most common, most secondary and post-secondary institutions use this method of teaching.
Read/Write: learning through words, i.e. books, textbooks, taking notes, etc. These learners thrive in a traditional learning environment
Kinaesthetic: learning via movement, hands-on approaches, experiments, STEAM. This is the least common of learning styles amongst students.
You can complete a questionnaire for your child to determine their learning style here. We will be mainly focusing on kinaesthetic learners in this post.
Is my child is a kinaesthetic learner?
Kinaesthetic learners are full of energy and usually love participating in sports, gymnastics or other physical activities. They love to fidget when sitting (which is just a way for them to think and/or process information). These kids love hands-on activities, play based learning and like to walk and jump around during the lesson. Also, when telling a story, kinaesthetic learners love to use a ton of movement and hand gestures.
What kind of learning environment will my child thrive in?
If you are certain that your child is primarily a kinaesthetic learner, then a traditional classroom setting may not be the ideal option for them. Kinaesthetic learners tend to be fidgety and easily excitable, which is often looked upon as “disruptive” in a traditional school setting.
They would thrive in a nature based curriculum or one that allows them to be free. If you are homeschooling, allow them to stand during a lesson instead of sitting. Let your child jump around (within your homeschool room) every few minutes so they have an outlet. Remember, movement is a way for them to process and retain their learning. It is similar to another child taking notes or drawing a picture to memorize their lessons.
Is kinaesthetic learning the only way my child will be able to learn?
No, most students have two or more learning styles so it is very likely that your child is a visual and kinaesthetic learner at the same time. However, most children do have a more dominant learning style. If your child is younger, he/she probably leans more towards a kinaesthetic learning style but if they are older, perhaps they prefer the visual learning style more. In either scenario, most students have a variety of ways of learning that might even change as they grow. It is our job as their first educators to understand, accept and know how to teach using the various learning styles.
What are some strengths of a kinaesthetic learner?
Kinaesthetic learners have excellent memory and they are very good at using their senses in their daily lives. Smell, touch, taste are some great ways to promote their learning, because they make excellent use of them. They have good hand-eye coordination and great reaction times. If their teachers let them be who they are, these children can grow up to be very confident and comfortable in their own skin.
What are some struggles of a kinaesthetic learner?
One of the main struggles of a kinaesthetic learner can be that they are often perceived as ‘disruptive’ or ‘excitable’ because they find it hard to sit still. In a traditional classroom setting, this can be misjudged as disruptive behavior. In reality though, kinaesthetic learners simply need to move around while they are learning. Movement is a way for them to think, process and retain information. Kinaesthetic learning is a less common learning style than what most are used to in their classrooms. These children also require frequent breaks, which can make the lesson a bit longer. However, their retention of information through movement is most often, permanent. So, one can say that kinaesthetic learners are efficient learners when they are taught properly.
What is the difference between tactile and kinaesthetic learning?
Tactile learners use smaller muscles, where as kinaesthetic learners use their large muscles to learn. Moreover, tactile learners love learning through their hands (sense of touch) but kinaesthetic learners excel at using their whole body movement to learn.
What are some everyday supplies I can use in teaching my kinaesthetic learner?
- Flash cards: lay them out on the carpet and let your child “hop” to them
- Legos: write sight words on the legos using a dry erase marker. Allow them to “build” to harder words
- Baking: teach fractions and addition by baking cookies together, this one is a win-for-all situation
- Ice cubes: Fill the ice cube tray using red, blue and yellow food coloured water. Allow two primary colours to melt together to see which secondary colour they create
- Masking Tape: create a hopscotch game on your floors and allow your child to jump from box to box after each correct answer.
- Tools: yes, actual screwdriver! Let your child take apart a clock and put it back together to see how it works
- Rocks: learn about the characteristics of bugs by painting rocks and placing them around your garden
- Nature Walks: a simple walk and read could do wonders for a kinaesthetic learner’s information retention!
I hope this information was helpful for those with kinaesthetic learners. I share a ton of kinaesthetic learning examples over on Instagram, be sure to check that out. If you are a parent or teacher of a kinaesthetic learner, my best advice is to embrace it. Children memorize information in various ways, some take notes while others move around – accept it with an open heart. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think, is your child a kinaesthetic learner? What are some ways you teach them?
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