The Kinesthetic Learning Style

Kinesthetic Learning Traits

Girl dribbling basketball
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If you've ever wondered why you're kind of antsy in class, and why it is easier for you to study if someone asks you questions while you're shooting hoops or walking around, then kinesthetic learning may be your thing. What is kinesthetic learning? Read below for the details on this learning style.

What is Kinesthetic Learning?

Kinesthetic Learning is one of the three different learning styles popularized by Neil D. Fleming in his VAK model of learning. In a nutshell, a kinesthetic learner needs to be actively doing something while learning in order to truly "get" the materials. Often, those with a kinesthetic learning style are going to have a hard time learning during sedentary things like lectures because the body does not make the connection that they are doing something when they're listening. Much of the time, they need to get up and move to put something into memory.

Strengths of Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners have many strengths that can help them achieve success in the classroom if the teacher can focus their attention appropriately. Here are just a few of those strengths. 

  • Great hand-eye coordination
  • Quick reactions
  • Excellent motor memory (can duplicate something after doing it once)
  • Excellent experimenters
  • Good at sports
  • Performs well in art and drama
  • High levels of energy

Kinesthetic Learning Strategies for Students

If you're a kinesthetic learner, and you can find out here if you are with this quick, ten-question quiz, you may find these things helpful when learning.

  • Stand up when you're feeling your mind start to wander. If you're in high school or middle school, ask the teacher first before so you're not labeled as disruptive.
  • Bring a rubber band to class and wrap and unwrap it around your hand or pencil.
  • When studying, bounce a tennis ball against the wall or floor when you're answering questions.
  • Underline, highlight or make notes while you read. Using efficient reading strategies will help you stay focused.
  • Tense and relax your muscles during long lectures.
  • Bounce a leg up and down to release some of the energy.

Kinesthetic Learning Strategies for Teachers

Students with this learning style are often called fidgety, problematic, antsy or hyper, merely because their bodies need to be in action in order to learn. If you're a teacher, this can be difficult to manage, especially because it's impossible to have a student bouncing all over the place in class when you're trying to relay information during a lecture.

Try these strategies for reaching those students with a kinesthetic learning type:

  • During a lecture, allow the kinesthetic learners to stand, bounce their legs, or doodle if they won't disrupt other students. You will get more out of them in class if they can move around a little bit. 
  • Offer various methods of instruction – lectures, paired readings, group work, experiments, projects, plays, etc., so you'll keep the kinesthetic learners surprised and able to deal with the days you want to present material in a straight-forward manner.
  • Have your kinesthetic learners perform tasks during the lecture like filling out a worksheet on the material or taking notes. It will help them focus even if it's just their hand moving.
  • Allow those students to perform movement tasks before and after lectures like passing back assignments, handing out quizzes, writing on the chalkboard, or even rearranging desks.
  • If you feel the kinesthetic learners slipping away from you in class, stop everyone and have the whole class do something energetic like marching, stretching, switching desks (left side of the room switch spots with the right side of the room). Just the act of moving can flip a switch in a learner's brain and help them regain focus.
  • Keep your lectures short and sweet! Allow for different activities throughout the class in order to be mindful of all your different learners. When planning, try to insert activities that will engage everyone in your class, not just the "easy" students.