Kinesthetic Learning

She taps her foot constantly. He can’t sit still. She wiggles so much! He can look at a book while he wiggles a toy in the other hand.

Just like adults, young children have their own learning style. “Kinesthetic learning (also known as tactile learning) is a learning style in which learning takes place by the student carrying out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration. People with a kinesthetic learning style are also commonly known as “do-ers”.”

Some adults and young children learn best through movement. (Gardner, H. (1983).Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books)

Actually when talking about preschoolers, according to Piaget’s theories, the majority of preschool children ARE kinesthetic learners since many preschoolers are still within the sensorimotor phase of development. So, these preschoolers learn by using their senses and motor skills. For many young children, just listening or watching someone else “do” is not effective for learning.

A clue is the young child who may wiggle, tap their feet and seem unable to sit still. This child may be a kinesthetic learner.

Essential for every parent and early childhood profession is the task to provide plenty of opportunities for children to move their bodies and engage in sensory activities. At first that may seem overwhelming, but here’s some ideas. I’m sure you’ll find that many are happening already or could be with some intentional planning.

First looking around the early childhood room/home and some of these items may be found that are useful for kinesthetic learners:

  • in the Library: books with textures, seating area with different textures
  • in the nap area: blankets with textures, pillows, stuffed animal
  • in the Dramatic Play area: baskets, rigid plastic tops, wooden salad bowls, pot holders, terry towels, sponge, scrub brushes, clothes that are woolly, silky, & bumpy, hard hats, felt hats
  • in the Art area: paint brushes, paper with texture, natural wood pencils, glue, finger painting, shaving cream, feathers, fabric scraps, clay, paper to tear, sponges for sponge art, yarn
  • in the Science area: sandpaper, gardening, planting seeds, small pets, water
Here are a few simple things adults can do in the daily schedule:
  1. circle time – have a movement activity, fingerplay, a little exercise or a stress ball available as part of circle time
  2. transitions – have a movement activity moving fingers, arms, clapping
  3. art – play dough provides movement opportunity, standing to paint
  4. writing – bring in bags of gel to write letters with a finger, cornmeal or sand in a tray to write in with a finger, letters made of sandpaper, furry fabric, or felt
  5. library – pillow with textures, books with texture

About admin

I'm Cathie. Welcome to my little early childhood corner! I have been involved with young children and their teachers for over 20 years: teaching, supervising, training, presenting, serving on state and community boards and councils. I love sharing quality early childhood ideas that are engaging! Thank you for joining me on this new adventure,
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3 Responses to Kinesthetic Learning

  1. Deb Chitwood says:

    Great suggestions, Cathie! I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page earlier this week:

  2. Nina says:

    I hadn’t thought about this since I figured kids are learning all the time, but yes I think it helps to have some sort of movement or learning aid. I’ve read that kids learn better when they figure things out on their own rather than listening to someone telling him how to do it. My kid definitely likes his play dough and maybe he enjoys all that tactile learning!

  3. Mary says:

    Thank you for sharing these great tips. Best,