How Parents Can Help Kinesthetic Learners Do Better in Elementary School

Kinesthetic learners typically learn best by using their bodies to help them take in information. You may have noticed that your child has an aptitude for physical activities, often fidgets, and/or likes to act things out—thankfully, such activities can also be translated into study habits and strategies. Here are some ways you can help your kinesthetic learner make the most of this learning style.

See where movement can be included in class settings

Movement is becoming more and more a part of the classroom, but there are still times, of course, when your child will be expected to sit and work quietly. Speak with the teacher to see if your child can possibly be seated somewhere where he can stretch out, swing his legs, or even pace at his desk—as long as he’s not disrupting the learning environment. Let your child know that it’s OK to tap his pencil or his foot—again, as long as he is not distracting others. The teacher may also be able to accommodate your child with objects he could use to tap into his sense of touch, such as squeezing a stress ball or feeling a strip of Velcro under his desk. A cut-up pool noodle can also be great for the feet.

Use objects and space

Objects can be great for learning specific concepts as well, as they can help your kinesthetic learner better understand an idea or a skill. Students can tie these objects and concepts to a physical movement; for example, gently tossing a ball between the hands while reviewing an idea can help your student access and reaccess the information, as she can later remember “the idea I reviewed while tossing the ball back and forth.” Have your child use space as well—consider role-playing to act out stories and information. Keep in mind that while you’ll want to encourage the movements of your child’s body, you’ll want to limit too many visual and auditory distractions.

Write and draw

Pen and paper may seem more conducive to visual and auditory learners, but these tools are also great for kinesthetic learners. The simple movement of the hands allows kinesthetic learners to use their bodies and retain information in a deeper way. Have your child make flashcards or draw out ideas, whether in pictures or diagrams. Mapping, for example, how characters are related in a book can be a great way for students to better understand the novel’s events and character actions. Mapping is a critical-thinking strategy that can strengthen your child’s ability to make connections.

Take breaks

Have your youngster take scheduled breaks during homework time. These breaks can be physical, like stretching, dancing, singing, or playing a clapping game; talking with a family member or watching a (short) fun video also works. Use space in this instance as well; if possible, have her play or walk outside. Indoors, she could move to a different place in your house, or change from sitting to standing, and vice versa. As little as five to ten minutes can make a big difference in increased attention and concentration.

Be sure to communicate with your child’s teacher about what’s working and not working for him at school. You may be able to use some of the same strategies at home that will make the learning environments more consistent, and both of you will likely have insights for each other that can help your kinesthetic learner succeed.

Lisa Low

Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.