Young children are full of energy, and are constantly on the move. When they reach the age of attending preschool or elementary school, many parents hear comments from educators that children have a hard time sitting still and doing seatwork. While some may be quick to assign a medical label, consider the possibility that the child may just be a kinesthetic learner. A Montessori school can help assess your child’s learning style and adapt to it appropriately.
There are 4 main types of learning styles. Reader-writers perform the best with traditional teaching methods, as they truly enjoy getting lost in a book or writing a story. Assign them a packet of worksheets, and they are truly in their element. Visual learners need images, graphics, maps, charts, and other visual aids to process information. Auditory learners do best when they hear and speak about their learning. Reading out loud and talking through math problems will help them excel. And then there are the kinesthetic learners. Often, these children appear to struggle in the classroom setting.
Is My Child a Kinesthetic Learner?
How can you tell if your child is a kinesthetic learner? They probably move a lot, and enjoy physical activities, like sports, running, riding bikes, and building things. You might be told they have a short attention span, or are hyperactive. Sometimes, these children are frequently reminded to keep their hands to themselves because they tend to need to touch other people and objects. Sitting at a desk, they tend to tap their pencil, drum on their desk, or constantly shake their legs. They may complain about sedentary activities like reading and writing spelling words, but are extremely coordinated and love to try new things.
Kinesthetic learners use their small and large muscle groups to process information. Often referred to as hands-on learners, they do best when they can move their body while learning. Parents and teachers who recognize this will save the child from a lot of frustration, and those who allow and encourage movement will see the child succeed.
Fitting Movement into a Kinesthetic Learner’s Routine
Here are some simple ways to allow a child movement within the classroom (or at home):
- offer a crunchy snack while reading, like carrot sticks or apple slices
- allow the child to stand while working
- provide a number line for simple math functions
- assign creative projects rather than worksheets
- toss a ball back and forth while learning or reviewing information
- letting a child type their work on a computer rather than writing
- assessing learning in creative ways other than written work, such as acting out a historical scene, or demonstrating a scientific principle
Teachers and parents can encourage kinesthetic learners to march or walk in place while studying spelling words. They can jump rope or skip while practicing math facts. Vocabulary words can be reviewed while trying to toss a basketball in the hoop. Students who have other learning styles would struggle immensely to concentrate while doing these activities, but for kinesthetic learners, it helps not only learning, but behavior.
Obviously there are times when children have to be still and listen. When children are required to sit, break lessons down in smaller sessions, and encourage movement before and afterwards. Also, provide quiet, non-distracting movement options at their desk, such as a stress ball, or textured pencils.
Kinesthetic Learning and the Montessori Method
The Montessori Method is designed to accommodate various learning styles, including kinesthetic learners. Kinesthetic learners benefit from the Montessori Method as it emphasizes hands-on, active learning experiences through practical life exercises and sensorial activities. These activities allow students to engage their bodies and develop coordination, concentration, and control while also learning important life skills and exploring their environment. Additionally, the Montessori Method encourages students to move freely within the classroom, allowing them to follow their natural curiosity and work at their own pace. This approach helps to keep kinesthetic learners engaged and motivated, providing them with opportunities to learn and grow through physical exploration and movement.
If you have a busy child who is struggling in school, consider the possibility that he or she may learn differently than other children, and may need educators who are willing to adapt. A child-centered approach is one of the main tenets of Montessori education. Students are taught in a way that works for them, instead of requiring them to try to adapt to the traditional school methodology. If you live in the McLean area, and would like more information, contact us.