Tips for hands-on learners

I got an e-mail today asking for advice for kinesthetic (hands-on) learners. Since there are probably more out there wondering the same thing, I thought I’d post my reply here.

Thanks for asking about teaching methods I use. We’re changing things around a bit this year. I’m finding the biggest thing is just have a variety of activities and allow lots of wiggle time instead of insisting he sit doing writing based activities all day, although we will still do some of that too. He also needs consistency in routines. For instance he knows we do reading every day, he will have to do the workbook lesson but the lessons themselves may be different activities. Part of learning for kinesthetic kids is learning when you really need to just sit still and get the work done. That’s hard and we try to limit that time and have movement breaks or activities between them.

My husband and I are also very fond of little teachable moments. Taking a minute or two to explain why something is the way it is. Then when he “officially” learns that he can remember what we were doing then and it helps him better understand.

One thing that has helped greatly in all subjects is using a kitchen timer. I give him a set amount of time to do the work. If it is done before the timer goes off he may get a reward. If not then he has some sort of punishment unless he has tried but truly doesn’t understand the work. Rewards can be extra time the next day, going to the park, extra free time, or occasionally a small treat. Punishment is usually loss of a privilege or time-out and depends upon how much extra time he takes to complete the work.


We love to use Math-u-See for math so he can fiddle with the blocks to find the math answers after watching brief the video intro. As Mr. Demme always says, “Build it, Write it, Say it.” Using multiple senses makes memorizing anything easier. I’ve tried to apply this to other areas of his learning.

LANGUAGE ARTS and READING SKILLS, I switched from Abeka to Christian Light Education. Abeka was through but not very engaging. The work was very repetitive and he was getting burned out by the end of the year. Abeka reading only had very basic comprehension questions whereas CLE has a full range of reading skills and comprehension. CLE has more variety in their workbooks even though they are more plain. They also have study skills lessons which Abeka didn’t. I think these are important to learn (especially for kinesthetic learners) and not all parents know them or how to teach them so having them built into the curriculum is great.

He’s already reading about 4th grade level going into 2nd! Intensive phonics was the key here. We used gross motor skills and tactile learning to help reinforce the phonics but the phonics was primary. Once he decided to read, he can’t put books down. I try to get things he is interested in and let him read wherever he wants. We are using WinterPromise so he has activities to reinforce the reading rather than narration.

Keeping the lessons short and focused without a lot of distractions (such as busy pictures or multiple topics/sounds at the same time) so he could maximize his sitting still time when first learning to read really helped. I’m going to use CLE’s Learning to Read program with my daughter rather than Abeka for this reason. Their progression of sounds is better too. They have little rhymes and stories for each sound. The kids can move around when learning them rather than staring at a flash card. Flash cards didn’t help much for my son. He did like to play matching games with them but as regular flash cards, he couldn’t sit still for very many and we both grew bored with them that way. Most of all constant review was essential but had to be done in a creative manner to keep his attention.

I hope this helps. I have a blog with more homeschool thoughts and tips you may want to check out. If you want to read more about CLE, their website is

Please feel free to write if you have any more questions or want me to explain something better.

UPDATE:  Dr. Guffanti has compiled a complete list of responses like mine. Click here to read his full article.


One Response

  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: