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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.