6 Study Strategies for Kinesthetic Learners

Taking notes can help kinesthetic learners study. Getty Images/Astrakan Images

Kinesthetic Learning is one of the three different learning styles recognized and explained by Neil D. Fleming in the VAK model of learning. In a nutshell, a kinesthetic learner needs to be actively doing something—moving, engaging the body, using the hands—while learning in order to truly "get" the materials. Those who favor a kinesthetic learning style have had a difficult time learning during traditional, lecture-based schooling. This is because the body does not make the connection that the students are doing something when they are just listening during a lengthy lecture. Their brains are engaged, but their bodies are not, which, for kinesthetic learners, means they may not really learn the information. Much of the time, they need to get up and move to put something into memory.

Study Strategies for Kinesthetic Learners

If you happen to be a kinesthetic learner (find out if you are with this simple, ten-question quiz), you may find the following study strategies helpful when learning.

1. Stand Up Instead of Sitting Down

Not only is sitting for extended periods of time bad for your health according to the American Medical Association, as a kinesthetic learner, you will learn more if your body is engaged while you're studying. It may seem silly, but investing in some sort of book stand so you can read standing up may improve your grade and help with your recall.

2. Combine Your Study Session With Exercise

Kill two birds with one stone! Instead of lying down on your bed reading or plopping on the sofa with your notes, get up and do burpees or jumping jacks in between chapters. Have a friend or parent quiz you on your study guide while you shoot hoops or jump rope. Give yourself a study goal - I will fully understand how blood functions as protection of the body by 7:00 PM. If you don't make it? Push-ups! Combining activity with learning energizes you and will help cement those ideas in your brain. Plus, with all of your excess energy, you need a way to get some of that out, even when you have to study.

3. Utilize Small Movements

Sometimes it's not possible to stand up and wander around or do high knees during a study session. Perhaps you are in a public study spot or just feel exhausted after a long, difficult day. You can still use kinesthetic study strategies to keep yourself engaged. Bounce a tennis ball against the floor and catch it every time you ask and answer a question. Twist a rubber band around your wrist or a pencil while you read. Even if the movements are small, they will still help.

4. Use a Pen. Use a Pencil. Use a Highlighter.

Underline important vocabulary or concepts while you read. Highlight and color code passages that connect with others. Use a pencil to draw flow charts in your books that help break down the passage into small pieces. Add sticky notes that show main ideas and your own inferences. Using effective reading strategies  combined with movement makes studying easier for kinesthetic learners. 

5. Use Tension and Relaxation

When you're in a study situation that truly limits your ability to move—studying in class, studying in a small group, etc.—you can utilize tension and relaxation to help you stay focused on the topic at hand. For five to ten seconds, tighten and hold a particular muscle while someone is talking or is reading you a question. Then relax when you have to answer or the seconds have passed. This muscle relaxation technique can help get rid of unwanted tension, which is something kinesthetic learners can be prone to when placed in idle situations. 

6. Get Creative

If a topic has become difficult for you, try it from another angle. Use manipulatives like blocks or figurines to visualize a battle scene or explore mathematical concepts. Draw pictures about the topic you're learning or design a video or storyboard explaining the ideas to someone new. Use your hands; you have excellent motor memory. When it comes to test time, you may remember something you built more than something you read.