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Teaching Strategies that Meet the Needs of Kinesthetic Learners

by Sarah K Major February 03, 2016 2 Comments

Teaching Strategies that Meet the Needs of Kinesthetic Learners

How to teach a kinesthetic learner

Often, kinesthetic learners are misunderstood. Their need for movement is viewed as a behavior problem. These are often the students who are constantly being told to "sit and be still" in their desks. Unfortunately the more we urge them to sit still, the more they seem to need to move.

Once we understand that movement IS a learning style, the more success we will have with these very special learners. We can learn to make the need to move work FOR us.

Two other important strategies that are powerful for kinesthetic learners are story and visual. So, to recap, the three best strategies to use when teaching a kinesthetic learner are:

1. Movement
2. Story
3. Visuals

Child1st addresses the needs of the kinesthetic learner by incorporating hand and body motions, visuals and story in every concept taught. This is why we are here. We have spent years developing teaching resources that by their very nature are multisensory and meet the needs of visual learners, kinesthetic/tactile learners, and right-brain learners. Those designations cover a multitude of different learning styles and preferences. 

What are the strengths of the kinesthetic learner?

  • Learns best through movement
  • Will focus on the whole picture
  • Learns best with 3-D materials
  • Needs to move while processing new information, but with very little external stimulation that would distract (let the body move but limit objects and visuals in the environment that would capture their focus away from the lesson)
  • Needs to learn using hands-on activities to process learning
  • Is often highly intuitive
  • Needs to physically process what he is learning - let them actually do the work rather than listen to how it is done

What are good teaching strategies for kinesthetic learners?

1. Give them plenty of outdoor time. A small study of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder last year found that walks outdoors appeared to improve scores on tests of attention and concentration. (Taken from a NY Times article by Tara Parker-Pope)

2. Let them move! They will learn more quickly and effectively if you let them stand at their desk, swing their legs, pace the floor - as long as they are not disrupting other students.

3. Break up long lessons into smaller chunks, change teaching location (sit on rug, sit in desks, go outside, switch seats, etc.)

4. If you are teaching steps for solving a problem, have students imagine themselves following the steps.

5. Their attention follows their hands. Encourage them to draw sketches or diagrams of what they are hearing in a lesson, or when doing a sheet of math problems, teach them to point to each problem they come to. Let them use flashcards with information they are learning

Resources designed for kinesthetic, tactile, & visual learners

How to teach the alphabet to a kinesthetic learner



Use this to teach the alphabet to a kinesthetic learner

Teach letter sounds, shapes, and vowels to your kinestheic or tactile learner. Alphabet Tales uses stories, visuals, and hands-on activities and crafts for each letter that make learning and remembering letters and their sounds a snap.

How to teach sight words to a kinesthetic learner


Use SnapWords® to teach sight words to a kinesthetic learner

SnapWords® are designed to capture attention, hold attention, and be easily remembered. They are the best resource for active learners because the words can be captured in a glance and each word has a related body movement. Try SnapWords® for free and see the difference!

How to teach reading to a kinesthetic learner



Use Easy-for-Me™ to teach reading to a kinesthetic learner

Easy-For-Me™ is a complete program for teaching reading for K-2nd grade. It is effective because the multisensory approach to learning engages your child on all levels, and utilizes his/her own learning style strengths. Every skill is taught using visuals and body movement so the active child is fully engaged.

How to teach math to a kinesthetic learner



Use Right-Brained Math to teach math to a kinesthetic learner

The Right-Brained Math Series teaches math concepts using elements that work for children who learn best with visuals, patterns, stories, hands-on activities and body movements - kinesthetic, tactile, and visual learners.

Why is a multisensory teaching approach best for kinesthetic learners?

Many types of learners, including kinesthetic learners, benefit greatly from a multisensory approach to learningWhat does it really mean when we say multisensory?

The accepted, traditional teaching techniques used in classrooms generally meet the needs of (left-brained) sequential learners. Concepts are introduced in a step by step sequence and are practiced and reviewed using drill and memorization; children must also show evidence of their learning in a particular time frame.

This is all great for children who are left-brained or sequential learners. The problem is, of course, that while the approach to teaching is great for those children who are sequential, every learner is taught this way and this traditional approach is ineffective at best for all the non-sequential learners.

Multisensory learning means that the student is able to use multiple pathways to the brain at one time in learning. He or she will not only hear the concept explained, but will also be using hands/body in learning, will see visuals that carry the meaning of the lesson. 

Generally, teachers would be hard pressed to convert every lesson every day into a multisensory learning experience for their children. There is so much material to cover and so little time and so many interruptions. Yet given well-designed materials, the task becomes easy for both teacher and students.

The BIG 3 are present in every learning resource we publish: Visual, Story, Movement.

How to Use Movement in Learning

Here is an example of a teacher using movement to teach a lesson. Rather than telling children how to "make a 10" and then practice problems with paper and pencil, she actually made a place value mat on the floor and had children act out the action in the math problem. (See Right-Brained Place Value).

Teaching Strategies that Meet the Needs of Kinesthetic Learners

Here is an example of a child learning to write his numbers. First, he stands by his desk and using his whole body, he air-writes 6 so his whole body is engaged. Next, he writes what his body already felt with pencil on paper. Learning happens through movement.


Teaching Strategies that Meet the Needs of Kinesthetic Learners

More about kinesthetic learners

16 Characteristics of Kinesthetic and Tactile Learners    
It is important to understand as much as possible about the learning strengths of each of our children. Believe me - they don't all learn the same way!

Kinesthetic learners generally are gifted with their bodies. They are aware of their body in space - have great balance. They are coordinated. They learn sports and other body skills easily. Read more about kinesthetic learners. 


Leave a comment and tell us what kind of learner your child is!

Sarah K Major
Sarah K Major


Sarah's absolute belief in every child’s ability to learn, and her passion to empower the child by supporting his/her own unique giftedness have fueled her life’s work and provided a new pathway for children to succeed academically.