Body Smarts: Add Kinesthetic Learning to the School Day

Body Smarts: Activities for Kinesthetic Learners

Sitting still for long periods of time isn’t easy. If your child gets restless during lessons and starts tapping his or her foot or twirling a pencil, suggesting that he or she sit still probably won’t help. Instead, it’s time to take a break and get moving!

Taking breaks and staying active is important to having a healthy, productive school week. Activity clears the mind, relieves grogginess and tension, encourages relaxation, and more. It’s especially important for students who prefer to be active, or, as psychologist Howard Gardner theorized, have outstanding kinesthetic intelligence.

What Is Kinesthetic Intelligence?

Students who excel in “body smarts” process information best through touch and movement. A “body-smart” child might seem to be in constant motion, tapping a foot, stretching his or her arms, or moving his or her shoulders and neck while reading or typing. These students may favor activities such as team or individual sports, martial arts, playing a musical instrument, or acting and dancing. Students with strong body smarts often demonstrate good fine motor skills and hand–eye coordination, which is evident in activities such as handwriting, working with clay, and playing catch. They also show good gross motor skills, which involve the large muscle groups that control walking, running, and even sitting and standing well. These traits show in a person’s agility, balance, athleticism, and body control.

Even if your child doesn’t gravitate toward hands-on or physical activities, you should still incorporate them into his or her routine. Learning to use a variety of methods can keep children interested and hone both their physical and mental skills.

Physical Activities for Kinesthetic Learners

Looking for ways to get your child moving throughout the day? Use the resources below to find new activities to exercise the body as well as the brain.

  • Do sensory integration activities. Activities that stimulate the senses are great for your child’s development. Besides aiding in kinesthetic learning, sensory activities also improve cognitive skills.
  • Combine fitness and learning. Exercise sends more oxygen to the brain, which helps students think. Have your child play multiplication catch or leap for measurement to practice skills through activity.
  • Have your child use a stability ball instead of a chair for short periods of time to improve balance, posture, and upper body strength. Several of my fellow teachers incorporate this into their workday routines.
  • Create a plan for your child to stay healthy and active. Work with your child to add sports and other exercise to his or her schedule, remembering to keep it fun.
  • In the path of winter snowstorms, students can go outside and build snow sculptures, make simple snowmen, and help shovel the white stuff off of the walkway.
  • Encourage your child to seize the opportunity to learn skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating. Keep the goal focused on activity and fun rather than on Olympic medals.
  • Start a family fitness challenge. Get the whole family involved in the new fitness plan, whether it’s by holding indoor scavenger hunts or creating your own unique activities.
  • Do indoor P.E. activities between lessons. Fun indoor activities for grades K–5 and 6–12 can keep your child busy all year long, no matter what the weather is.
Hands-on Clubs

Another way for your child to get active is to join a Connections Academy club. Some of the online school clubs that appeal to kinesthetic learners include:

  • Sports Club
  • Theater Arts Club
  • Robotics Club
  • Environmental Club
  • Art Club

Once you make your child’s school schedule more active, consider building his or her word smarts, self-smarts, or another one of Gardner’s multiple intelligences.

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