Kinesthetic learning is one of the four types of learning styles, along with visual, auditory, and read/write. These learning styles guide how we learn and process information, and can impact how we understand, retain, and apply new knowledge. The best educators can cater to each student’s strengths to ensure they truly grasp the information. Kinesthetic learners like to be active while they learn. They process information better and faster once their body is busy doing something besides focusing specifically on the material. Check out 14 strategies for kinesthetic learners that they can utilize at home and at school.
What Does It Mean To Be a Kinesthetic Learner?
A kinesthetic learner learns most effectively by feeling or moving. They understand best through hands-on experience, and need a multi-sensory learning environment for deep learning, as they learn through ‘doing’. By doing things they can physically connect with the concept at hand, which helps with memory retention. They’re tactile learners who use movement, testing, and trial and error to retain and recall information.
Kinesthetic learners, also called tactile learners, become easily bored in a traditional classroom. Reading or listening to information may not be enough to fully comprehend or retain it. They enjoy sports and physical activity, and appreciate opportunities to go on excursions and get outside the classroom.
They love testing things, experimenting, and creating, and often become restless when they’re sedentary. They also tend to doodle a lot while listening. They prefer making charts or posters from projects, and remember spelling words better if they write them down several times.
Kinesthetic learners typically have excellent hand-eye coordination, great motor memory, are good at sports and physical activity, and have high energy. They do well in creative subjects like art and drama, are excellent with tactical tasks, like model-building, and enjoy escapes, like adventure books and movies.
7 Strategies for Kinesthetic Learners in the Classroom
- Allow kinesthetic learners to move around a little bit during class- you’ll get more out of them this way. Let them stand, bounce their legs, or doodle, as it will help them learn and retain information.
- Allow kinesthetic learners to do movement tasks before and after lessons. Ask them to hand out quizzes, write on the chalkboard, or rearrange desks.
- Implement shorter lessons to help kinesthetic learners stay engaged and focused. They can retain more information by focusing on a smaller amount of material at a time. Shorter lessons also provide more opportunities for learners to review and reflect on what they have learned.
- Take your class outside to give them an opportunity to move around and engage with the environment in a more hands-on way (through sight, sound, touch, and smell). This will help them make real-life connections to the topic they’re learning about.
- Encourage students to take their own notes, which will help them understand better and retain more information. It will reinforce what they’ve learned and identify areas they may need more clarification and support.
- If you feel kinesthetic learners are disengaging during class, pause the lesson and have the whole class do something energetic, such as stretching, jumping jacks, or switching desks. This will help with their concentration, productivity, and energy levels.
- Offer various methods of instruction for your students, such as lecture, paired reading, group work, experiments, projects, and plays. Having an array of lesson types will help the different types of learners in your classroom.
7 Study Strategies for Kinesthetic Learners
1. Work/Study Standing Up
Studying while standing up allows you to flex your muscles, which affects the way your body internalizes information. As a kinesthetic learner, standing while you work can result in better comprehension, focus, and retention. It’s been found to lower blood pressure and boost productivity, so consider a standing desk for better productivity.
2. Take Notes While Reading (And Use a Whiteboard)
Many people, especially kinesthetic learners, find it difficult to retain knowledge just by reading textbooks and course material. The hand movement involved in taking notes will help you concentrate and retain information. Even better if you take notes on a whiteboard. Writing on a whiteboard involves your whole body, so it’s awesome for kinesthetic learners. While you may not take all your notes down on a whiteboard, you can use it to highlight main points about the topic.
3. Use a Highlighter and Flashcards
When trying to retain new information, the physical aspect of preparing a flashcard or highlighting a sentence can help kickstart your brain. Kinesthetic learners tend to like moving things and flashcards can help develop a moving schematic that your brain may prefer to reading words on a page.
4. Take Active Breaks
It’s important to take breaks when you’re studying to maintain concentration and boost productivity. Kinesthetic learners will do best with active breaks, by doing things like taking a walk, doing jumping jacks, or jumping rope. This will help you burn off extra energy, and also solidify what you’ve just studied.
5. Tense and Relax
In places where you don’t have space, you may have to lean on more limited activities to maintain your concentration. Try the tension and relaxation method- tense a leg or arm muscle, hold it there for five seconds, then let it relax. This is a good way to keep focused and gives your body something to do in a confined space.
6. Get Creative
If you’re having trouble grasping a topic, try coming at it from another angle. Draw out pictures, graphs, or diagrams, or design a storyboard explaining the topic to someone new. Use materials you can manipulate to help you understand the subject in a new way.
7. Find a Study Group
Studying in a group is often beneficial for kinesthetic learners as group study sessions naturally involve more movement, conversation, and activity than solo study sessions. The movement and activity helps kinesthetic learners retain more information. It’s also helpful for kinesthetic learners to teach others, so within your group you can consider each learning about a certain element of the material and explaining it to one another.
Kinesthetic learners have a unique set of strengths. Make sure they’re reaching their potential with these strategies at home and at school.
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