Parenting a Kinetic Learner
Learning style refers to the way the learner processes information. There isn't a right or wrong learning style. Most children show a preference for one of the three basic learning styles: visual, auditory or kinetic. Kinetic learners, also referred to as kinesthetic or tactile learners, are energetic and enthusiastic. According to the University of Illinois, they seem to be constantly in motion and learn best by physically exploring the world around them 1. Since this learning style can often be at odds with a traditional classroom environment, parents of kinetic learners might need to advocate on behalf of their child's needs.
Show, Don't Tell
Kinetic learners master new skills by doing, notes the North Dakota State University Extension Service 3. For example, a kinetic learner who has trouble doing addition problems on a math worksheet will often find the same problems easier to understand when they're are demonstrated using beans, building blocks or other small manipulatives. When your child is having trouble with a subject at school, look for hands-on activities to help reinforce classroom lessons.
Encourage Your Child to Participate in Sports
Parents of kinetic learners should encourage their kids to participate in athletics, as these types of learners will often receive positive recognition for their strengths in sports -- and have a chance to burn off some excess energy. All sports offer benefits, so choose an activity that appeals to your child's personal interests.
Being a Drama Queen Isn't Necessarily a Bad Thing
Kinetic learners use their bodies to express themselves, which means that they often excel at drama. The Catholic Principals Council of Ontario suggests encouraging your kinetic learner to try out for the school play as acting can give her an opportunity to shine 5. Kinesthetic learners often learn their lines by linking them to movements across the stage, so acting plays to their natural strengths in a unique way.
Recognize Your Child's Limitations
As the parent of a kinetic learner, you need to keep in mind that your child isn't always acting up on purpose. According to the North Dakota State University Extension Office, a child who is a kinetic learner will often have trouble listening and sitting still for long periods of time because these learners are easily distracted 13. Being sympathetic to your child's need for movement will help you deal with the problem more constructively than simply shouting and losing your temper.
Don't Rush to Label Your Child
The Association for Comprehensive Neurotherapy reports that it is common for kinetic learners to be mislabeled as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) if they haven't been given an opportunity to learn constructive ways to channel their active bodies 4. Although medication can be helpful for children who truly have this disorder, medicating a child unnecessarily is never a good idea. If necessary, seek out a second opinion before jumping to an ADHD diagnosis. ADHD is a psychiatric or microbiological disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Kinetic learners are simply people who process information best when it is presented in a hands-on way.
- University of Illinois Extension: Learning Styles
- Scholastic: How Is Your Child Smart?
- North Dakota State University Extension Service: Parenting Pipeline Newsletter
- Association for Comprehensive Neurotherapy: The Fine Line Between ADHD and Kinesthetic Learners
- The Catholic Principals Council of Ontario: Dramatic Strategies to Improve Student Achievement
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