Online teaching and and the kinesthetic learner

Hello teachers! Teaching online has its advantages and its unique challenges. One unique challenge I faced was properly teaching students that learn better with hands-on activities. I am not there to place items in their hands, interact with them, and keep them physically stimulated.

This learning style does not only affect young students, but this also affects adults. Have you ever been in a room of adults, perhaps in a meeting, and you have the parent that is doodling, making notes, or constantly clicking their pen? Just like your active kiddos, they need physical stimulation to maintain focus and learn.

For many of us, this can create some frustration. Your student comes off as distracted or uninterested. However, they are typically excited and motivated to learn English. It is up to you to adjust your teaching style to meet the learning needs of our student.

So now what? How you do you, an online teacher, deal with this virtually?

For my kiddos, here are some strategies I use:

  1. Keep them moving! You can do this with songs. You may not be able to maintain this throughout your entire lesson. Starting with a song, or using it mid-way through has proven to be effective. Encourage them to get up and dance!
  2. Have them write down answers. Get them to write down their answers instead of blurting them out. I love this method! You engage them mentally and physically. Furthermore, you are helping them with writing, spelling, and punctuation.
  3. TPR!!! Seriously, this is such an essential strategy to master. Whatever learning style your student has, TPR is crucial.  For my hands-on kiddos, I have them act out words with me. We work together to come up with movements for all the keywords in the lesson. It is fun, interactive, and builds a bond with the student too.
  4. Find and show me. I will ask the student to get up and “show me” relevant items in the lesson. The key is to get them physically engaged!
  5. Reward systems. Find or create reward systems that get them involved. I use a virtual candy dish where they select candy and fill the dish. You are rewarding the student and encouraging them to stay focused.

Adult students take a slightly different approach; reward systems, games, and singing isn’t going to get them engaged. These are some guidelines I follow:

  1. Role play. This approach is highly effective. I give them a scenario and allow time to make notes. You will need to think quickly and be responsive to the students’ role play.
  2. Collaborative note taking. I use a virtual whiteboard. We collaborate and brainstorm ideas, vocabulary, expressions, etc. related to the topic. I have also discovered that actively typing visible notes myself, keeps them engaged.
  3. Use highlighters!  Ask the student to highlight words and phrases that require clarification. This may or may not work for you, depending on your virtual classroom set up.

Kinesthetic learners do best in small chunks of time. Normally you have 25 minutes per class.  This is their sweet spot and works to your advantage.

Young and adult students are looking to you to help them in their journey to learn English. It is your job to tailor your teaching method to your students learning style. Your students want to impress you, they want to succeed, and want to give their best! A distracted student does not mean uninterested. It is a sign that you need to adjust your style to meet their needs.

Do not feel discouraged if it takes a class or two to get into a good groove with your student. Over time, you will identify these learning styles quickly.

I would love to hear more about what strategies you are using! As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am still a newbie, learning as I navigate not only teaching, but teaching online. Let’s get a conversation started!  Come join our FB group at Teach English Online – TEFL/TESOL/ESL/JOBS/! 

For more fun and teacher engagement, come join our social teaching platform TEOLEO! Just click our TEOLEO icon below to get going!

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Written by Sarah
Hello, my name is Sarah, to my students, I am Teacher Sarah. I began this journey simply because teaching has always been a dream of mine. Life had other lessons for me to learn before arriving here. My life experiences are one of the things that make me an excellent teacher. Teaching online opens new doors for those of you out there with a heart for teaching and a desire to adventure this big beautiful world. Teaching online allows so much freedom, all while changing the lives of students and teachers all around the world. I want to share my journey in online teaching, living outside the lines, and doing what makes me happy.
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9 Comments
  1. Instructors who understand student motivation can greatly enhance the classroom experience and student performance.

  2. Finding good kinesthetic activities for teaching children can be a bit difficult. However, there are many ways to teach a child with a kinesthetic learning style.

    • I agree fully! It just takes a little patience and creativity! The way I see it; if your student is not learning, it is time for you to review your teaching style to meet their needs. Thank you!

  3. Awesome stuff Sarah! I love the adaptations for adults too. Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement Jay! I It has been a rewarding and challenging task learning how to quickly adjust and adapt to the various learning styles.

  4. This is a great article! I’m sure many on,one teachers can relate to these. I am particularly interested in the “Find and show me” game. I would be excited to participate in this, so I think some younger students might really enjoy this. Thanks!

    • From my experience, kids get super excited when you ask them to go grab a marker, or what have you. It’s a great way to grab their attention and even flip that frown upside down!

      • Yes! Haha! The moment you actively involve them, they get excited about the lesson and it becomes fun, instead of just another thing they have on their to do list

    • Awesome! I am so happy you enjoyed it! Yes I love playing this game, I have even had the parents get really into it and excited about it. Sometimes it takes away from the lesson itself, but at the same time they are learning to identify things they see daily in their home and describe them in English. To me, this is so important to their development. Thanks again for the comment!

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