Kinesthetic Intelligence in Children

04 April, 2020
Kinesthetic intelligence is one of the intelligences Howard Gardner defined in his theory of multiple intelligences. In this article, we’ll explain what you should know about how this intellectual capacity manifests in children.

Humans need kinesthetic intelligence to learn to control body movement. Thus, it’s very important for optimum development. For this reason, we prepared this article about kinesthetic intelligence in children.

Intelligence is susceptible to change and depends on innate factors and learning. Therefore, even though each person has their limits and potential, the environment can optimize intellectual abilities.

“We all have these intelligences, that’s what makes us human beings, cognitively speaking. Yet at any particular moment, individuals differ for both genetic and experiential reasons in their respective profiles of intellectual strengths and weaknesses.”

– Howard Gardner –

What is kinesthetic intelligence?

Historically, experts conceived the existence of a single intelligence as an expression of cognitive ability. But psychologist Howard Gardner says that intelligence involves the necessary ability to:

  • Solve a problem.
  • Develop products.
  • Find or create new problems.

In addition, this same author determines that, in fact, people combine and use at least eight different intelligences in varying degrees in personal and unique ways.

One of these is called kinesthetic intelligence, which is also called body intelligence. It’s the ability to use the entire body, or any part of the body, in order to solve problems or do activities that require physical performance. Thus, this intelligence includes the following skills:

  • Using hands to transform elements.
  • Coordinating movements.
  • Balance.
  • Being flexible.
  • Using strength.
  • Moving with speed.
  • Perceiving measurements and volumes.
Kinesthetic Intelligence in Children

Kinesthetic intelligence is located in the frontal lobe of the brain. Specifically, in the motor cortex. In this regard, each hemisphere controls the movements that occur on the opposite side of the body. For example, the right hemisphere gives the order to lift the left hand. Therefore, in right-handed people, the dominance of movements is usually in the left hemisphere, while it’s usually on the right in left-handed people.

Kinesthetic intelligence in children

Kinesthetic intelligence develops from the first years of life, since children have the need to physically explore the world and implement their knowledge, meaning that they experience feelings and sensations with their body and movements.

Thus, said capacity unites the body and mind to ensure proper physical performance. Firstly, children manifest this ability by learning to control automatic and voluntary movements. But, over the years, they acquire the skills to use their body in a differentiated and competent way.

Unfortunately, schools don’t usually consider kinesthetic skills important. Instead, they prioritize other intelligences, such as logical-mathematical and verbal-linguistic.

In addition, traditional schools tend to separate the mind from the body and theoretical from practical learning. This is a mistake, as the mind must be trained to use the body and vice versa.

Thus, we can say that a child’s kinesthetic intelligence is highly developed if they can stand out in any of the following activities:

  • Sports.
  • Dance.
  • Building and construction games.
  • Athletics.
  • Dramatic art.

“We aren’t all the same; we don’t all have the same kinds of minds. In other words, we’re not all distinct points on a single bell curve. Education works most effectively if these differences are taken into account rather than denied or ignored.”

– Howard Gardner –

Characteristics of children with kinesthetic intelligence

Conduct

Behaviorally speaking, children with high kinesthetic intelligence levels:

  • Are very uneasy and move continuously.
  • Are sensitive to the physical signs of affection.
  • Explore through their sense of touch.
  • Express their emotions through movements.
  • Need to do practical activities.
  • Like to walk, run, and jump.
Kinesthetic Intelligence in Children

Communication

These children also have a very specific communication style, characterized by:

  • Exaggerated gesticulation.
  • Tendency to boredom in long and calm conversations.
  • Performing movements during inactivity periods in communication.
  • Distractibility.
  • Using tantrums to communicate instead of using words.

Memory

Furthermore, children with high levels of kinesthetic intelligence have a particular memory. In this regard, they usually:

  • Are intuitive and better at memorizing repeatedly performed actions.
  • Remember events in a general way, without remembering details well.
  • Store physical information and are able to easily repeat learned movements.
  • Gardner, H. (1998). Inteligencias múltiples. Barcelona: Paidós.
  • Mercadé, A. (2014). Los 8 tipos de inteligencia según Howard Gardner. Editorial Académica Española15.
  • Realpe Cevallos, D. L. (2012). Estudio de la inteligencia kinestésico corporal en los niños del 1er año de Educación Básica de la ciudad de Ibarra–zona urbana (Tesis doctoral). Universidad técnica del norte, Ibarra.