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Your kinesthetic learner

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Learning through movement

In making important decisions about your child’s education it makes sense to first determine what type of learner she is. If you notice that moving helps information sink in, your child may be a kinesthetic learner.

Auditory and visual learners are often able to embrace traditional educational materials with ease, but kinesthetic learners may struggle unless you address their need for tactility.

Hands-on learning

Most of us are familiar with visual and auditory learning styles but for many, kinesthetic learning is a mystery (especially if you aren’t in the field of education). “Kinesthetic learners learn best when they feel something, or experience it through the motions of their bodies,” says Arvin Vohra, author of The Equation for Excellence: How to Make Your Child Excel at Math and the founder of Arvin Vohra Education in Washington DC. “Kinesthetic learners often have talents that baffle the rest of us. Unfortunately, most schools fail to develop those talents, while also failing to build the academic skills of kinesthetic learners.”

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Is your child a kinesthetic learner?

Although there are many tests and quizzes available to determine your child’s learning style, it’s important to avoid pigeonholing any child as exclusively one type of learner. We often learn different subjects using various techniques. For instance, your child may be an auditory learner when it comes to history but a kinesthetic learner when it comes to math. It‘s our job as parents to provide suitable learning opportunities that speak to the unique needs of every child. “If your child is great at making things with his hands, dance, and sports, he probably has some kinesthetic talents,” says Vohra. “If he learns better with physical objects than with auditory or even visual explanations, that’s another key sign.”

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A little extra effort

If your kinesthetic learner is struggling in school, you may need to step up the effort to partner with her teacher(s). “Most school lectures use voice to appeal to auditory learners, whiteboards and projectors to appeal to visual learners, and essentially nothing to appeal to kinesthetic learners,” says Vohra. Nobody knows your child better than you do so if you recognize kinesthetic tendencies in a particular subject, ask the teacher to incorporate tactile materials that will enable your child to learn through touch and movement. If that’s not possible, you can always provide some extra help at home.

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Some perspective

While often not considered "traditional" learners, kinesthetic kids can succeed just as easily as visual or auditory learners. "Kinesthetic learners often come to me with their confidence totally shattered," says Vohra. "These same people, once they learn to respect and develop the gifts that their teachers have overlooked, often become quite successful entrepreneurs, and even develop a genuine love of math, reading, science, philosophy, and other academic disciplines. Perhaps that means they eventually will spend their days designing jewelry or motorcycles instead of staring at excel spreadsheets in cubicles. That’s hardly the worst thing in the world."

Read more about learning styles

Learning styles
What type of learner is your child?
6 Questions to ask your child's teacher at conference time

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