When we begin delving into learning styles, the first thing we want to know is what style is my child? It’s a good thing to know, because once we recognize our child’s learning superpowers, we can help him harness that energy. Suddenly, learning is much easier and a whole lot more fun for everyone.
It’s pretty easy to find the visual and auditory learners — they are the “good students.” Our traditional educational models favor reading and listening to explanations, so the visual and auditory learners are the “good students.” They are voracious readers or they are the first to ask questions and remember your answers. Since they get instant gratification — we buy them more books and we answer their questions — they are non-stop learning machines from toddlerhood on.
And then there are the kinesthetic learners.
Poor guys, they are so misunderstood. They frustrate us in their insistence to march (literally) to their own beat, and they frustrate themselves with their inability to fit into the school mold (even in homeschooling). So they get labeled more easily as slow learners or ADHD when they are just trying desperately to learn.
Could you have a kinesthetic learner?
See how many of these symptoms your student displays.
1. The dirty toddler.
Do you have a child who, as a baby, just never could stay clean? He smeared his food all over his high chair and himself, even after he was old enough to eat properly. He didn’t just dig in the garden, he squished the mud into every crevice of his body. He jumped in every puddle, he touched every worm, he spilled out every liquid and gelatinous substance you owned and spread it by hand across large surfaces.
He just couldn’t touch the world enough.
2. Too close for comfort.
Do you have a child who constantly crawled onto your lap, then up your torso to your neck? Did he always sit really, really close on the sofa during read-aloud time? Does he hug friends and family easily?
Is he bumping into his siblings, elbowing others at the table, and wrestling with friends? And do you vote him “most likely to break all my favorite things?”
His high touch-needs continue into his personal relationships.
3. “Late to Read”
Watch me use “air quotes” when I say “late to read,” because it’s a misnomer. We tend to expect our children to learn how to read by age 5 or 6, but it’s perfectly normal for some students to wait until closer to age 10.
Especially these kinesthetic learners.
These symbols and sounds and blends and books have little meaning for them, especially when handling and manipulating things in the real world offers so much more learning fun. In order to learn to read, they have to learn an entirely different way of learning than the one they do best. It’s possible — they will do it, but it will take some more time, maturity, and creativity.
4. Crawls on the Table while Writing
Does your child sprawl across the table or climb up onto his chair when he’s concentrating on writing or other worksheets? Does the command sit still make him break out into a sweat?
5. Homework All Over the House
Do you find textbooks, worksheets, library books, and projects in every room of the house and on every flat surface? Does he set up his own workspace or desk…and then study everywhere in the house except there?
6. Abuses Textbooks
Does your student have a hard time remembering to take care of the textbooks? Is his math book held together by duct tape? Is his history notebook missing half of the pages … and the rest of them are dog-eared or wrinkled? Has he lost the most library books in your family?
7. Fidgets while You are Teaching
Does your child kick, wiggle, wrestle, wander, and otherwise drive you to distraction when you are trying to discuss a lesson or explain how to complete an assignment?
And then have you asked him to repeat back what you said when he seemed to not be paying attention, and he surprised you by recalling every word?
8. Craves Projects, Crafts, and Experiments
Does your student have a favorite how-to channel? Does he watch people on cooking shows and try to replicate their techniques? Does he make up his own crafts and science experiments?
9. Takes Apart Toys
Does your child enjoy taking things apart? Does he save spare toy parts “in case I need them later.” Does he buy lego kits but never use them for the intended projects?
10. Loses Tools
Has your child “borrowed” Dad’s tools so many times that there are few left? Does he even ask for tools for himself for Christmas? Is he drawn to neighbors repairing or building projects like a moth to a flame?
If you answered “OH, MY, YES!” to several of these, you likely have a kinesthetic learner! Congratulations!
Find out how you can tailor your own teaching style and the curriculum you already own to your student’s learning styles in my book Homeschool Made Easy, available now on Kindle.
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