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Move It or Lose It

Move It or Lose It

In this final article on Learning Modalities—visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (three routes by which new information can be received by our brains)—it’s important to note that we can use any or all of these approaches. However, when things are difficult to learn, one particular approach will be easier for an individual. Discovering which one works best for each of your children will pay long-term dividends when you run into problems!


Today, let’s consider what it’s like for those who learn new facts best by moving or touching something while they learn. This is the one who fidgets, jumps, rolls, taps, dances, skips—anything that lets them use their bodies as they receive the information.

In 1999, I had the privilege of being a student for one week in the classroom of a master teacher, Rosalie Pedder. From the moment she entered the room, we knew we were in for something unusual. Unpacking a bag of Koosh balls, she tossed one to each of us, saying with her New Zealand accent, “Right. I want each of you to take this Koosh ball and quietly play with it while I talk. . . For some of you, it will prove to be distracting. As soon as you recognize that, set it down. For others, you won’t notice any difference as you listen to me. When you recognize this, put it down. You don’t need it. But, for some of you, as you fiddle with this ball, you are going to hear what a teacher is saying—and actually UNDERSTAND it—for the first time in your life!”

As we looked at her in amazement, she continued, “For those who are helped by the Koosh ball, I want you to keep playing with it throughout the day. And tomorrow, pick one up as you come into the classroom. Feel free to walk quietly in the back of the room, too, during my lectures.”

She ended her introduction with this statement:”The reason we are doing this exercise is to help you all understand that there are different ways people take in new information. And, for those of you who do this best by moving or touching something as you learn, you have most likely been shamed by teachers in your past. But I’m here to tell you that God made you in this wonderful way, and it is WELCOME in my classroom!”


Among these adult students, there were many who drank in Rosalie’s words. It turned out that their previous experiences in school had been very painful because, while other students seemed to absorb information easily, these folks (in different cultures) were each ridiculed and mocked for not “getting it.”

This came to the forefront when, one day, Rosalie announced that we were each to take several pipe cleaners and fashion something out of them that would represent the concept she had just been discussing.

I looked at her in disbelief! Pipe cleaners? To illustrate a concept?? Grudgingly, I crafted something utterly forgettable. That was the experience for most of us. However, something stunningly beautiful took shape in the hands of one woman. As she shared her creation of a butterfly with the class, and shared how it represented the concept of being a kinesthetic learner, something life-changing occurred. Everyone in that class was confronted with the beautiful gifting and talent of this quiet Korean woman, including her husband. She had believed all of her life that she was stupid, unable to learn anything, yet in that moment, she discovered that she was fearfully and wonderfully made by God. All she had ever needed was an opportunity to touch things and to move as she processed and learned.

For some of you, that’s what you needed, too. And though you can not go back into your childhood and retake all those school classes, understanding that you are not stupid—and you never were—can be transformative.

And, for all of us who are homeschooling children like this, we can open wide the door of learning by giving them permission to MOVE! Whether it be playing quietly with Koosh balls, sitting on an exercise ball, drawing while someone reads, doing jumping jacks while memorizing math facts—whatever seems best for the situation—create an environment where this approach is WELCOMED!

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June 2024
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