Kinesthetic Learning Style

People learn in a variety of ways, as your own experience sitting in classrooms has undoubtedly shown you. Education experts have identified a number of learning styles, including auditory, visual, kinesthetic (or physical) and read and write. People may favour one predominant learning style, but others use a mix of learning styles to absorb material.

Understanding your own learning style is important, because it allows you to get the most from the courses you take. There is no right way to learn; what matters is finding the method that allows you to succeed in mastering course material.

Kinesthetic Learners Best Learn Information By:

Kinesthetic learners learn best when their bodies are active; action helps them cement information in their memories. It can be challenging for kinesthetic learners to succeed in the traditional classroom, according to writer Kelly Roell, because their bodies don’t consider listening as an activity, so it is difficult for them to absorb the material being presented. They are generally successful at learning by doing, rather than by watching; muscle memory allows them to remember how to do something after doing it only once.

If you are a kinesthetic learner, it is likely you possess some of these traits:

  • Excellent hand-eye co-ordination
  • High energy levels
  • Quick reaction times
  • Skilled at assembling things, such as models or furniture
  • Good at performing experiments
  • Excellent muscle memory; can duplicate something after doing it once
  • Talented at sports
  • Becomes fidgety if required to sit for long periods; finds reasons to move
  • Is not very attentive to auditory or visual presentations
  • Movement helps concentration
  • Gestures when speaking
  • Tries things and likes to manipulate objects
  • Enjoys action or adventure movies

Kinesthetic Learning Tips

As a kinesthetic learner, you will likely find the traditional classroom setting to be challenging, since it requires sitting still for long periods of time. If you are fortunate, instructors will accommodate your need for movement. Being aware of the conditions that help you learn best will allow you to work with your teachers to facilitate success.

Consider the following approaches to ensure success in the classroom and in studying afterward:

  • Given a short attention span, it’s important to take frequent breaks while studying. This doesn’t equate to studying less than others; it simply means studying in shorter blocks of time and taking frequent, short, five-minute breaks.
  • Examples, rather than plain facts, help kinesthetic learners retain material better. Science and math formulas are easy to illustrate with real life examples and the more relevant to daily life, the better. For other subjects, turn to case studies to get similar context.
  • Join a study group. Kinesthetic learners enjoy discussions and they help consolidate information.
  • Satisfy the need to do something with your hands while studying by squeezing a stress ball or tapping a pencil.
  • For memorization, walk or pace around a room while using your notes or flashcards or reciting to yourself.
  • Aid memorization by writing words in the air or on a surface with your finger. Picture the words in your mind as your write.
  • Bounce a tennis ball against a wall as you answer study questions.
  • Sitting at a desk may not be the best posture for you while studying. Consider lying on your back or your stomach or sitting in a bean bag chair.
  • Underline or highlight as you read assigned materials.
  • Colour can help focus your attention; try reading through coloured transparencies or covering your desk with coloured construction paper. Experiment to see if some colours work better for you than others.
  • During classes, stand up if you find your mind is wandering. You may wish to alert the teacher first that you’ll be doing so.
  • Tense and relax your muscles while sitting through a lecture. Keep your hands busy by wrapping and unwrapping a rubber band around your pen or pencil.
  • Type your notes on a computer can reinforce lessons through a sense of touch.
  • Go for a walk or a run while listening to an audiotape of a lecture.
  • Create flashcards for studying. Various areas of the brain become engaged through the act of writing out the information and flipping the cards over.

Advantages of Kinesthetic Learning

Educator Kirin Sinha is an advocate for kinesthetic learning. Kinesthetic learning connects the different ways in which we learn, she notes, “and this process enables a more effective understanding and retention of information.” she writes. “In kinesthetic learning, movement and action replace more passive forms of learning.
“No matter how much we memorize, recite, and study, our muscle memory seems to trump our brains alone. We learn best when we combine mind and body.”

Therefore, if kinesthetic learning is your natural learning style, you should have the advantage of being able to retain information for a long time once you learn it. Use this ability to your benefit.