Do you ever find yourself praying your super hyper, obviously ADHD child, does not make it to class? I mean, you want to teach all of the kids, but it is so much easier when that one child is gone. The other kids actually get a chance to speak, they hear you and learn when your hyper, misbehaving child is absent. Then you feel a little guilty, right? What if I told you that I have a solution? It’s not full proof, but it works amazingly well most of the time!
About 10% of the general population are kinesthetic learners. They prefer to learn by getting their body into action and moving around. They are “hands-on” types who prefer doing to talking. (Stephan Kesting, Apr 2012) I have found that my hyper, seemingly undisciplined students respond well when I teach for the kinesthetic learner. I have also found that my other students love learning this way too so it turns out to be a win-win-win! Of course, sometimes our classes get a little loud, but they love it and they learn. Kinesthetic learners need to be hands-on. They need movement. Asking these children to sit in their seat and listen is painful for them. They know better, but cannot yet control themselves enough to do this. They are young and growing. As teachers, we need to show a lot of love and patience, and get creative in our teaching style!
Every single week I pull out one of a few items. We use Play-Doh, Play Floam, Galaxy Slime, Kinetic Sand and White Boards. Rotating these items out from week to week keeps things fresh. I have played with the idea of using one item each month and promoting class this way, but have not made the switch yet. Each child gets a play item. I read the story. As I read the story, I give the kids instructions to create something that applies to what I am reading. I can use this method on the fly for any lesson. For example:
- Read: “God sent Moses to free the Israelites from Egypt” and instruct kids to make the letter “M” for Moses. Then reinforce by asking, “Who did God send to free His people?” Moses.
- Read: “Moses parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could walk across on dry ground” and instruct the kids to make two sides of water standing tall leaving a path in the middle for the Israelites. Reinforce by asking, “Did they sink in the wet ground?” No, because it was dry land.
Why does this work? All of the kids have something in their hands and are moving. They are forming something and associated your words to what they are doing. Have you ever noticed that your ADHD kids are super smart, they are just wild? This focuses their energy in a guided fashion so all of the kids can learn.
Another suggestion for teaching kinesthetic learners is through movement. Get the kids up out of their seats and create movements for kids to do as you go through the bible story. For instance, as you talk about the waters parting, they use their whole bodies as they spread their arms wide to represent the waters parting. March them through an imaginary Red Sea. Be sure to ask reinforcing questions as you go to make sure they are not simply doing the movements, but learning as well. You do need space for some of this.
This is something I do quite regularly when teaching kids the books of the bible. We sing the Old and New Testament books of the bible songs. Then, I pull a card of the hat (all books of the bible are listed) and read it aloud. If the book is found in the Old Testament, there is an action to do such as hop across the room. If it is in the New Testament, they waddle across the room. We go back and forth, book to book, learning which part of the bible book are found. I change up the actions each week so they don’t get boring. Kids love to give you suggestions too! You can do this with questions about the lesson too. They love it.
Don’t let your hyper kiddo’s make you cringe and dread teaching each week. You may find yourself sitting between talkers, but overall, our kids can and will learn well. Instead of reminding kids to sit down repeatedly, teach in a manner they respond to, learn well and enjoy. You will be surprised at what they learn, retain and how much they love their bible class!
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