Everyone learns differently. Some students take notes in class, while others prefer to listen. Some may feel their understanding snap into place when they look at a diagram, while others need a friend to explain things; this is entirely normal. Every person’s brain is different, so it makes sense that the way we process information isn’t the same either.
Kinaesthetic learning is an example of this and refers to people who learn best through physical activity. Kinaesthetic learners are often referred to as ‘body smart’ because they’re natural doers and process information best when they can actively participate.
What are the different types of learning?
Howard Gardner (1983) came up with the theory of multiple intelligences in learning, saying that there were eight types of intelligence. These were:
- Musical-rhythmic (music smart)
- Visual-spatial (picture smart)
- Verbal-linguistic (word smart)
- Logical-mathematical (number smart)
- Bodily-kinaesthetic (body smart)
- Interpersonal (people smart)
- Intrapersonal (self-smart)
- Naturalistic (nature smart)
This idea greatly impacted how people viewed education, as it acknowledged the complexities of intelligence and validated learning in different ways.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that people could only fit into one of these categories. On the contrary, the multiple intelligences theory empowers people to think about how they learn and embrace their abilities.
How to cater to kinaesthetic learners in the classroom
In the classroom, students with high kinaesthetic intelligence may learn best when they can get tactile and hands-on. Here are a few simple strategies and examples to help support the kinaesthetic learners in your classroom.
The physical nature of flashcards helps kinaesthetic learners process the information they’re studying. They’re also portable, so there’s no reason why learners couldn’t use them while going for a walk or even pacing around the classroom.
It could mean taking frequent breaks during a lesson to stretch their legs and boost their energy levels. In addition, teachers can support their kinaesthetic learners by giving them physical tasks to do to keep them engaged and physically active. It could be anything, from asking a student to hand out worksheets to closing the window.
Taking part in something, even virtually, is a great way to help kinaesthetic learners process their learning. So why not take advantage of the many online educational apps and games? You could also make your games up in class to help boost energy levels. For example, hosting a class spelling bee or a maths tournament where students take turns standing and answering questions.
Give students projects to work on
Perhaps students can create something using their hands to complement their learning. Dioramas are a good example of this – along with craft activities. Or how about students writing sketches in groups on subjects they’re covering in class? Tactile and active experiences for students to focus their energy on are a great way to mix things up and channel creativity.
The vital thing to remember when planning for kinaesthetic and tactile learning is that students remember what they do and touch. So think about how to make lessons active and hands-on.