Monday, February 28, 2011

Movement to help you learn

Kinesthetic learners are those who learn and focus through movement.  Movement can be actual movement or "white noise" movement.  Each kinesthetic learner will have a selection of movement strategies that will match that student's own needs.  Consequently, one kinesthetic learner may choose different techniques than another kinesthetic learner.

What are some of the movement techinques that are part of the repetoire for various kinesthetic learners?  Here are just a few:

  • Movements to help focus in class: jiggling a foot, twirling a strand of hair, playing with a pen, typing, doodling, shifting in the chair.
  • Movements to help memorization: pacing during flashcard use, studying one's outline while on the treadmill, listening to an audio CD while washing and waxing one's car, talking with one's hands and pacing while learning a presentation.
  • Movements to regain focus: taking short breaks at least every 90 minutes, getting up and walking around for those 10-minute breaks, standing up while reading, moving to a different location, interspersing marathon study group sessions with breaks, volunteering to be the flashcard quiz-master for the study group when focus is flagging.
  • Movements for comfort: spreading out everything on a big library table rather than a small carrel, picking an aisle seat rather than being cramped in the middle of a row,  

Can kinesthetic learners have too much movement?  Yes!  Here are some things to consider:

  • Kinesthetic learners often become distracted more easily, so be careful to avoid anything that increases your distraction level.
  • Also make sure that your movements do not distract other students in their learning.
  • Make sure that taking a break is necessary  and not just an excuse to waste time (for example, you are unable to regain focus by asking questions while you read).
  • Make sure that the 10-minute break to walk around does not turn into an hour in the student lounge.
  • Make sure using your laptop does not become distracting for you - do not email, IM, surf the net, or play solitaire instead of focusing on class or studies.
  • Make sure that you pick a study location that is not distracting: avoid being where everyone will walk by or will stop and talk to you, avoid classroom back rows near doors that border noisy halls, avoid sitting near windows that will tempt you to watch what is going on outside.

What about white noise to help with focus?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Turn on a fan, dishwasher, air conditioner, or washing machine to mask noise outside your apartment.
  • Listen to instrumental music to drown out competing noises. 
  • Study in a coffee shop or restaurant where the murmur of voices and spoons on coffee cups can provide some background noise - but avoid traffic areas or use ear plugs.

Some kinesthetic learners have damped down the movements that actually help them learn and need to regain movement.  Why?  They had parents and teachers who were not kinesthetics tell them to stop fidgeting and stop taking breaks.  Consequently, they gave up movement for someone else's idea of "proper" studying.  (Amy Jarmon)    

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