Kinesthetic Skill and Emotional Resilience: some observations from the classroom

“What does learning look like?” is a question that always comes up in our EASE program because each student with special needs has a unique learning style, and as a result, signs of success can differ widely within a single classroom. This past term, I observed and worked with a student named Demetrius who did not exhibit neurotypical signs that the learning process was occurring. However, on countless occasions over the course of the four months, Demetrius was not only processing information presented to him, but was demonstrating what he was learning though his unique kinesthetic and emotional intelligence. As a result, Demetrius began enjoying much more success while having fun too!

Demetrius was kinesthetically very aware and excelled at anything that required him to move. When the EASE activities started giving him permission to stand up and move around to work (in Floor Maps, for example), his ability to follow multi-step directions and take his time to find an answer (without getting frustrated or being tempted to give up) noticeably increased. Eventually, he loved being challenged to connect movement commands (hop! jump! skip!) and adjectives (big steps! small steps! sad steps! happy steps!) with physical reality. As his abilities improved his confidence grew each week.

To be able to show that he understood the instructions (even if it took him a long time to arrive at his answer) has made Demetrius more excited to learn. Even when it seemed like he was the last one in his class to fully grasp the lesson he remained resilient. Most notably, while other students in the group were still learning to deal with disappointment (for example, when they didn’t get picked first or when they had to pass a desired object to the next person…etc), Demetrius has been able to channel his physical impulses towards making a game out of waiting. He understood that the prompt would soon change to something else, and that maybe he would be picked first the next time. This realization allowed him to self regulate and to show his incredible growth in inter-socialization skills.

– Annie Levy