Don’t you wish you had your kids’ energy sometimes?

Why do they always seem to be moving? Fidgeting, dancing, running, wrestling.

Through my experiences with trying to homeschool Raven and realizing that she was a kinesthetic learner, I have changed the way I used to view learning. The truth is, most of what adults consider to be distractions to learning (fidgeting, doodling, chatting) are actually ways in which kids incorporate their entire bodies in the learning process.

I’m going to be writing about how we learn through movement over at Natural Family Today, but I just wanted to share some of my observations here.

We don’t always think about the physical body when we buy curriculum, plan our schedule, or observe our children. Maybe it’s time we start.

Here are 10 ways that I have observed my kids learning through movement:

10 ways that kids learn through using their physical body.

1. Exploring with their senses

This one is the most obvious. All day, every day my kids are tasting, touching, smelling, hearing, and experiencing the world.

When we go to the park, they want to know what every sound is. They want to touch the grass, see the birds, and smell the pond water (yuck).

2. Repetitive actions to focus

tapping her foot to focus

Denna rocks back and forth and taps her foot.

Fidgeting doesn’t just happen in a traditional classroom. I catch my kids all the time making rhythmic movements while playing video games, reading, or otherwise trying to focus on a task.

I think this is where movement gets a bad rap. Because of the way school is designed, kids that need movement to focus get told to stay still and stop distracting. What we don’t realize is that it is a normal connection between the brain and the body.

3. Building things, experimenting

There is a reason that Legos are such a popular toy, and it being used in many classrooms as an educational tool. Kids love to work with their hands and actually make things. And the great thing is that they learn a lot from it!

Raven loves crafting and has taught herself to knit, fold origami, make duct tape wallets, and so much more.

4. Physical exertion to clear the mind

Again – another activity that gets misconstrued in modern education. Sometimes kids need to get up and move around – work out their bodies in order to clear their mind and reflect on information.

This is an important part of the learning process that helps assimilate new knowledge with old. It also is a natural reminder to keep active.

5. Dancing


Gosh – I remember dancing for hours on end outside as a kid. I had some of my “moments of clarity” while hopping my brains out to C&C Music Factory.

Dancing is just good medicine for the soul, not to mention a great way to learn. Yes – learn. Not everything we learn has to be about math and science. Dancing teaches us about rhythm and beat, culture, how our bodies can move, and what pure abandon feels like.

6. Drawing and doodling

Raven has taught me that doodling while listening to me read a book helps her connect her thoughts with her brain. She actually remembers more when she is listening and drawing at the same time.

It also helps her to organize her thoughts and represent them visually on paper.

7. Games

My kids make up all kinds of games with weird rules that they seem to understand. Their latest game involves putting the dishes away without leaving the kitchen rug, but there are exceptions where they are allowed to leave for a short time.

It kind of reminds me of when I used to pretend the floor was lava. I think every kid did that.

Not only are they learning about cooperative play, but also what rules work, what is fair, creating win/lose scenarios, and strategy.

8. Imaginative play

I guess you could say that made-up games and imaginative play are the same thing. Play is broader though, because it includes other types of movement and thinking.

shooting squids

Shooting imaginative squids on our walk

Gaius has recently ramped up his imagination and we get to witness how what he is passionate about gets integrated into his play. His love for all things robots, sea creatures, and ninjas gets played out daily in our house and on our walks.

Along with playing, he likes to tell us facts about those topics as well.

9. Massage

It might sound weird, but my kids love massages! It might not be a natural thing, but they picked it up from Jay and I and now they enjoy both giving and receiving massages.

I guess you could say that all forms of physical contact with another living thing is a way of learning through movement. There is connection, relationship, and affection.

10. Walking

Denna at apt

Now that walking is our main mode of transportation, I think it deserves its own place on this list. Before wheels, people walked to get places. I have nothing against modern transportation, but there is something special about a long walk.

Walking to the subway and downtown to buy produce puts us in the thick of our community unlike anything else. We see the same people every day, we walk by amazing architecture, and we learn with our bodies as well as our minds.

How do you use your body to learn? Do you encourage movement during educational endeavors with your kids?

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6 Responses to 10 Ways My Kids Learn Through Movement

  1. DEFINITELY this was a hard mindset for me to get past. Sarah is definitely a mover, and to my untrained eye, I used to think she “looked like” she wasn’t paying attention – but that’s when she was absorbing the most!

  2. Heather H says:

    We certainly do a lot of that over at our home. In fact, I blogged about it for the last 10 days. Movement really is so key to learning!

  3. Mimi says:

    This is good information for me trying to homeschool ane xtremely ADHD child of 5. He listens, sometimes, and often he can not tell me just seconds later what I have talked about, but after he gets up moves around and even does his dance bit to the DVD Bible music, he will come back and say ‘did you know? and tell me something that I taught him yesterdsy

    • Mimi – 5 is still very young. I wasn’t even in Kindergarten at five. And at that age, play is the main method of learning for them. It’s completely normal for a child that age to need to move and play and only have an attention span of about 8 minutes. 🙂

  4. Susan Evans says:

    My kids are moving all the time, and they were doing high school level stuff years ago, and they’re not teenagers yet! I sometimes move to learn a Scripture verse, because moving helps me to learn, too!

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