We all have our specific style to engage with content, retain information, and learn things. On the basis of different learning styles, experts have zeroed in on four types of learners. These are Auditory, Visual, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic Learners.
Of the above, Kinesthetic or tactile learning is a specific style of learning in which we have hands-on experience. This style of learning requires us to manipulate or touch material to learn.
For example, a child learning to use a swing or riding a bike. In such a type of learning, children can read instructions or listen to instructions, but their proper learning will be done by doing things. So, parents and teachers should keep in mind this aspect while dealing with kinesthetic learners.
Kinesthetic learners: Dealing with the doers
Kinesthetic children need an environment providing multi-sensory learning.
Traditional classroom environments can be an obstacle to their learning because they are ‘tactile’ learners, who need to be actively engaged to retain and recall information. Some of the common traits of kinesthetic learners are:
- Such learners understand more through hands-on experience
- Have high levels of energy, hence they easily get bored or restless
- Learn through movement
- Have good hand-eye coordination, hence they are good at sports and physical activity
- Are active participants rather than passive observers at the time of learning
- Enjoy opportunities to go on excursions or be outside the classroom
- Love experimenting and creating things, are good at replicating things after doing it once
- They are hand talkers and expressive in nature, hence perform well in art and drama
Learning strategies for Kinesthetic learners
Now that you know the traits of kinesthetic children, you can try the following techniques to improve their ability to retain information and learn things:
Let them stand up
When they stand up, their body is more engaged and connected to the learning process, thus improving their comprehension and retention power.
Combine study sessions with exercise. Ask them to do burpees or jumping jacks in between chapters. Combining activity keeps them energized and cements the ideas they study in their brain. Such children need a physical outlet for their excess energy, even when they are studying.
You can use kinesthetic study strategies to keep children engaged. Ask them to bounce a tennis ball against the floor and catch it every time they answer a question. Also, they can twist a rubber band around their wrist or a pencil while reading. Even if the movements are small, they will help them stay focused and attentive.
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Use of pen, pencil and highlighter
Ask them to underline important points while they read, highlight, and color code important lines or passages. Tell them to use a pencil to draw flow charts in books, which will help them break down the passage into small pieces. Let them add sticky notes that show the main ideas.
Use of tension and relaxation techniques
When children are in a study situation it limits their ability to move. At that moment, the use of tension and relaxation techniques can help them to stay focused. For this, ask them to tighten a particular muscle for an interval of five to ten seconds and relax it. This technique helps to release unwanted tension.
Use of creativity
You must understand that creativity is the most effective way to draw attention, which makes children retain information and understand the concepts in an effective manner. If a topic seems difficult for them, use material they can manipulate, like blocks to visualize mathematical concepts.
Let them draw pictures about the topic they are learning or design a storyboard explaining the ideas to someone. Such children have excellent motor memory. They are likely to better remember something they build than something they read.
You have to adopt separate techniques at home and school to help kinesthetic children learn.
Here is a what-to-do list:
Techniques to help kinesthetic learners at school
Kinesthetic learners need to move their bodies to improve their learning. This behavior might mislead us to think that they are distracted, but in reality, it is a positive sign. It means that they are trying to process information.
So, the following things can help –
- While teaching for longer durations, allow them to change locations. If they are sitting on the desk, you can ask them to sit on the floor and vice – versa. Locations with minimal distractions should be encouraged.
- Include students in the learning process. Share the end outcome and the suggested steps to reach there with them. Take their feedback and their ideas on how to produce the desired outcome. Listen and incorporate relevant pointers from them into the task.
- Teach them with visual aids like flashcards. Ask them to draw sketches of what they learnt.
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- Techniques like deep breathing and relaxation activities can help them with focus.
- Incorporate movements and animation into teaching. For example, when teaching a sight word like “help”, also show the body movement that will both mimic the shape and meaning of the word.
Help students practice reading with games. ELA games are fun and help kinesthetic learners retain concepts with no difficulty!
- These students focus better with objects to play and manipulate instead of paper and pencil. Getting creative with learning tools aids their learning. For example, while solving math problems, encourage them to build and visualize the problem using manipulatives.
- Switching up where you teach and the way you convey content helps in keeping their attention. This is just another way to combine visuals and related movement into your lessons.
Techniques to help kinesthetic learners at home
- You can make students practice movement at home. Pacing the floor while reading or swinging their legs while doing homework are a few examples.
- Divide their homework time into shorter spans and with breaks in between. For example, do science homework, then take a break to run around the yard or any physical activity of their choice and then do some more homework.
- Similar to visualization techniques in school, ask them to break a problem statement into smaller parts and encourage them to imagine seeing themself following the steps.
- Create a comfortable learning environment for children. A proven strategy is creating a “study spot” that has the least distractions.
- Involve them in deciding the amount of time for rest and relaxation. Help them learn to organize and prioritize their work and focus on just one at a time.
- Unfortunately, children’s memory is not related to the number of times we have told them to do something. They learn by doing. Help them retain information by creating fun, repetitive movements or visual aids such as whiteboards with lists and pictures.
- Use games like building blocks to help them visualize math problems and practice sight words rather than traditional methods like pen and paper. You can also use math and ELA games on SplashLearn.
- Share with your child about their learning gift. They can be their best helper once they are aware about their unique set of skills.
Now that you know all about kinesthetic learners, it’s best to adapt to the above-mentioned techniques & strategies to maximize your teaching efforts, whether at home or school!