Your learning style refers to the way in which you most easily and effectively absorb, process, comprehend and retain information (‘Learning Styles’ 2018).
In Part 1 of this series, we introduced learning styles and how your child’s dominant style determines the types of experiences they need for optimal learning. In Part 2 we looked at auditory learners and their preferences and in Part 3 we discussed visual learners.
This article is a bit different, because we’ve asked My Academy’s Director Rachel Hayes to reflect on her own experience as a kinaesthetic learner!
If auditory learners have to hear it and visual learners have to see it, kinaesthetic learners could be summed up as having to doit (Alt Ed Austin).
Sometimes termed ‘bodily-kinaesthetic’, these students may exude many of the following characteristics:
- Are most engaged when they are moving
- Concentrate or listen best if they are able to play with or manipulate something
- Demonstrate a strong attraction to dance, drama, sport or practical, hands-on activities
- A natural ability to copy movement
- Have excellent fine and gross motor skills
- Look for excuses to move e.g. needing to get something, sharpen pencils
- Gets fidgety or zones out if asked to sit still for long periods
Rachel tells us about her experience as a kinaesthetic learner:
Kinaesthetic learners are often described as being fidgets in school or not able to concentrate when there are long periods where they are required to listen. It can also be hard for kinaesthetic learners to retain information when they are asked to sit still and listen. I know this – I was that child!
There is a plethora of fun activities you can do to help support a kinaesthetic learner and they are all hands-on and exciting games that do not involve sitting at a desk. There are also strategies that kinaesthetic learners can use so that they can retain information when they are not doing activities with movement. I myself have a square ring on my thumb and while I am talking I fiddle with it, twisting it, turning it, pulling it on and off my thumb, this enables me to retain everything from each conversation I have. I always used to allow kinaesthetic learners in my class something to fiddle with and I could guarantee that while they were fiddling I could ask any questions and they could repeat exactly what I had said.
There is a difference between hyperactivity or the need for constant movement, which is typical of ADHD but can have other causes such as diet or anxiety, and a kinaesthetic learner, who simply needs to use movement and the sense of touch to learn. A good indicator that a child is a kinaesthetic learner would be that they become ‘happy learners’, able to engage, concentrate and retain information, when given kinaesthetic learning opportunities.
Learning tools that work well for kinaesthetic learners include:
- Physical and board games
- Use of tactile learning materials such as shapes, building blocks, counters, puzzles, forming letters or numbers with a finger in the air or in sand
- Learning experiences that require physical movement, e.g. discussions and activities where students move around the room, or action songs and rhymes
- A favourite item to fiddle with while sitting at a desk, such as modelling clay or a paperclip
- Ensuring the student is not reprimanded for touching and playing with items on their desk while listening is vital
While students are given multiple opportunities for kinaesthetic learning experiences in early primary school, this starts to disappear in many upper primary and high school subjects. Communication with teachers about what your child needs in order to learn is therefore vital; likewise teaching students that it is ok to have a preferred learning style and how to confidently and clearly communicate that to others are skills that will serve your child well throughout their learning and working lives.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our series on learning styles. If you require further information or would like to discuss a program that works with your child’s learning style, please get in contact – we’d be happy to help.
‘Is it ADHD or a Kinesthetic Learning Style?’ https://www.altedaustin.com/blog/is-it-adhd-or-a-kinesthetic-learning-style.html
‘Examples of Learning Styles’ https://www.education.vic.gov.au/documents/childhood/professionals/support/egsls.pdf
‘Learning Styles’ https://teach.com/what/teachers-know/learning-styles/