Ideas to help the educator with a kinesthetic student

A kinesthetic learner is someone that learns through movement. The kinesthetic student has difficulty sitting still and may be seen tapping their fingers or a pencil while working. When studying, they do not enjoy reading for long periods of time and they may take breaks quite frequently. Anything with physical activities draws these students attention. At times students that learn through physical activity are labeled hyperactive or attention-deficit.

In the classroom, there are several things that an educator can try to help reach these students. Any activity that includes touching, feeling or movement is considered kinesthetic. When teaching a lesson, teachers can help to reach a kinesthetic learner by using motions while talking. For example, when talking about an ocean explorer, a teacher can make a motion like the waves, or make rowing motions.

When involved in an activity, these students will show more success than otherwise. They do well in labs, dramas active field trips or other activities. They do well when an activity requires the use of manipulatives or other items. These items can be used in almost every topic that is taught. These activities are useful for all of the students in the classroom, but are especially useful when reaching these active learners.

A classroom that is aimed at the kinesthetic learner will have tools such as modeling clay, models, textile material such as sandpaper, crayons, markers and other materials for creating pictures. There should also be globes, puzzles, blocks, and computers.

Educators should also include in their lesson plans opportunities to demonstrate, or make available child-safe experiments. There should also be projects that include activities, or role-playing. Games are also useful to help reach these children.

In math classes, using materials such as cereal or blocks to teach addition or subtraction, or allowing them to create number lines for the concepts of greater than or less than will work.

In language class, clapping out syllables, or sounds in a word is useful as well as games in spelling class. One game that students enjoy begins with having students stand beside their desks. Then present a spelling word, the first person in the classroom says the first letter, the second says the second and this continues around the classroom. When a student misses a letter they need to sit down. Otherwise when the end of the word is said the next student says a special word, such as “shazam” and then they sit down. This can continue until all the words in the spelling list are completed. 

Another activity involves giving each child a word card and then allows them to create sentences with their classmates. When they have completed a sentence, they turn their cards around to show the other students and teacher.

In social studies or science when actions take place in a specific order, the teacher can explain the order first and then allow the students to demonstrate each step. Perhaps students could be changed for each step, or for each item in a series of events, and when finished, the process can be repeated with another set of students. .

Many of these activities can be used to reach other types of learners as well, such as students who learn best using auditory or visual skills. These activities are helpful for many students in any classroom. They also help to include the thing that draws negative attention to a student – their wiggles – and turns it around into something positive for their learning.