Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, or body smart, like the other seven smarts, resides in each child and adult. Those with a lot of it play one or more sports well, can act with their bodies, and may have skilled eye-hand coordination. Others may not be able to do any of that. Many children will have abilities somewhere in between these extremes. You’ll know the ones who are body smart because they think with movement and touch. When they’re excited, they move more.
Have you ever had a great idea while driving, putting groceries away, or walking upstairs? If you have, that’s your body smart at work. This is precisely why these children should not be expected or required to always sit still. It’s counterproductive and unrealistic for the way God wired them. (When it’s essential that they sit still because of others, they must learn to use their self-control to be obedient.)
Studying with the body-smart part of the brain involves moving in relevant ways and thinking with your hands by building things, clapping, writing, acting, etc. These ideas to include movement in lessons can be adapted to your needs:
- Young children can march to their spelling words, taking one step for each letter. This won’t hurt any student and it will especially help those who are body smart. The teacher can lead them during school and/or children can march when practicing at home. For example, if they do this with the word “Texas” at home and then forget the middle letter when taking their spelling test, they can silently march with their big toes under their desks. This “marching” will help them recall the letter “x.”
- Older students can use the same marching idea when, for example, memorizing the names of countries and vocabulary for their economics test.
- Sky writing can be very helpful for children who are body smart. This involves “writing” letters and words as large as you can in the air with your hand, as if you’re holding a pencil. Sky writing also works well when learning chemical formulas, an explorer’s name, or a cursive letter. As an alternative to sky writing, you can use large pieces of chalk on the driveway, wet sponges on chalkboards, and markers on whiteboards. Because sky writing involves muscles in the fingers, arm, shoulder, and back, it’s better for body-smart children than simply writing on paper. Muscle movement helps body-smart children learn and remember. Teachers can lead groups of children in this worthwhile activity in class and encourage them to study this way at home. I recommend that children also say what they’re writing because then they’ll be using two more components of word-smart intelligence – speaking and listening – along with the word-smart skill of writing and the body’s large-motor actions.
- Body-smart children should have clipboards available for their use because they’ll have the freedom to pace and study, go sit outside for a while, and sprawl out on the floor in the den where they can freely kick their legs in the air.
- These children may also benefit from reading and studying in rocking chairs and beanbag chairs because these chairs provide the freedom to move. Even “studying” while emptying the dishwasher, cutting the grass, and washing the car may help. Of course, they won’t be holding a textbook, but they can rehearse a poem they’re memorizing, verbalize the order of events they’re studying for their history test, or think through a paper they’re writing.
- Learning through drama and role-play can also be effective. It doesn’t have to be involved and complicated. For example, if children are learning the difference between shocked and scared, having them make the facial expressions that go with each word can help.
- Because body-smart children think and learn by touching, it makes sense to use manipulatives. Bending colorful pipe cleaners into letters and numbers may work well. Writing with a finger in dry jello or sand poured into a pan can be effective.
- Giving children relevant objects to explore and examine can be very motivational and instructive. Remember, they think with their hands, so actually handling an old bee hive could do more for them than a ten-minute lecture about it.