How to help Kinesthetic Learners

The multiple intelligences are an important factor that must be considered when planning every lesson, every activity, and every day in your classroom. If lessons are planned with all intelligences in mind, they will appeal to all learners in your classroom. This will not only ensure that every student has a chance to understand the concept and to succeed, but it will also minimize classroom management issues. Additionally, research has shown that even if someone lacks a specific intelligence, practice can help to build it up.

Every teacher can think of that one student every year who is DEFINITELY a kinesthetic learner. This student is the one who can’t sit still, who appears to be bothering people and whose name you probably mention 35 times a day. It is important to ask yourself if this students’ behavior is possibly a result of a kinesthetic need not being met. Rather than viewing this student as a problem, ask yourself what you can do to meet his/her kinesthetic needs. The following are just some ideas in order to help kinesthetic learners succeed in your classroom.

1. Provide opportunity for all students to move. Even though not all students are classified as kinesthetic learners, all students will benefit from kinesthetic learning. This includes activities that encourage students to manipulate objects, do investigations, play games, and move around the classroom. Learning centers are a great way for younger students to move, as centers involve students moving from place to place. Gallery walks involve posting student work around the classroom and having students walk around to view it. “Snowball Fights” are a great way to review for a test or share learning after watching a movie or listening to a presentation. Have all students write down a fact that they learned on a piece of paper. Have students crumple up their papers, and line up in 2 lines, facing each other. When you say “Snowball Fight!”, students throw their “snowballs” at each other, grab another one, open it up and read it. This may sound scary to some teachers, but it can be totally controlled, non-chaotic and very fun for students.

2. Recognize the more kinesthetic learners in your classroom. On the first day of school you will probably recognize who these people are. Provide extra opportunity for them to move. If you need the lights turned off, have them do it. If you need tables or desks moved, have them do it. If you need an errand done, have them do it. You get the picture. Just be careful that other students are not viewing these students as being “favored”.

3. Alter assignments to make them more kinesthetic. Even something as simple as moving cards around can appeal to a kinesthetic learner. For example, while students are copying out their spelling words from a book, have spelling words printed on cards for your kinesthetic student. This will allow them to move the card from place to place on their desk as they write the words in their notebook. In Math, rather than printing out sheets of Math facts for students to practice, have them roll two dice and write the equation in their notebooks. This is fun for ALL students, and eliminates unnecessary photocopying.

4. Make exceptions to the rules. You may have to make exceptions for some students who are an extreme behavior issue. In many cases, allowing the student to move will alleviate the issue. For example, during silent reading time, it may work to allow your kinesthetic learner to walk back and forth in the hallway outside your classroom while reading his/her book. You may need to allow a student to go for a walk when you see a possible behavior issue arising. You may worry that other students will want to do the same thing, but in most cases, the other students in the classroom realize why you are letting the kinesthetic learner do what they are doing.

Many behavior issues can be prevented in your classroom if you make a conscious effort to appeal to unique learning styles. Remember that the more ways a student learns, the better they will know the material.