Study Advice for Kinesthetic Learners

Is your teen a Kinesthetic Learner?

Is your teen a Kinesthetic Learner?

Kinesthetic learners are natural doers. They learn best when they discover things by doing them.

Kinesthetic learners aren’t necessarily suited to the traditional classroom. They learn best when they are physically active, or through learning activities that involve active participation.

Similar to Auditory Learners, Kinesthetic learners are not tremendous note-takers in class.

They can be fidgety and not enjoy sitting still for long periods of time, which sometimes comes across as disruptive or uninterested.

 

Is your child a Kinesthetic Learner?

Here’s a few main characteristics of Kinesthetic learners. See if these remind you of your child at all.

Kinesthetic learners:

  1. are good with their hands. They enjoy building models and putting things together (or breaking them!)
  2. are good at remembering things they’ve actually done before. E.g. cooking meals, putting together computers, jigsaw puzzles.
  3. enjoy active learning at school, such as PE and science experiments.
  4. enjoy playing sport.
  5. like adventure books and movies.
  6. become fidgety when sitting for a long period of time.
  7. do not tend to have great handwriting or spelling.

 

Study Tips for Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners should use study techniques that take advantage of their very hands-on brain.

Use flash cards

Flash cards make kinesthetic learners turn simple recall into a game. This makes them perfect for kinesthetic learners.

Simply write a question or topic suggestion on one side of a card, and the answer or a list of details they should remember on the other side.

The beauty of flash cards is that you can use them by yourself or with others. This easily allows you to take an active part in your child’s study while making it more fun for them.

Study in short blocks

Kinesthetic learners tend to have a relatively short attention span when they’re studying. But this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be doing just as much study as everyone else.

They should break their study up into shorter periods, but also take shorter breaks.

Forcing a kinesthetic learner to study for an hour at a time can be counter-productive. Regular 5 minute breaks can often be all they need to help them study far more.

Use plenty of examples when writing study notes

Many main points and concepts can be demonstrated with examples. Kinesthetic learners tend to make better associations with the examples than just the plain facts.

For example, most science concepts can be backed up with specific examples. E.g. instead of just remembering the formula, F = m × a, you can think of a cellphone being dropped from a second story balcony, and how force, mass, and acceleration are related. (The more personal or relatable to their everyday life the better)

Many of the arts subjects include many examples and case studies. Try and get your child to think of these ‘situations’, not just the plain facts.

Study with other people

Kinesthetic learners enjoy discussion. Talking about what they’ve learnt is often a great way to consolidate what they’ve learnt.

This tip is suggested with caution! This is because students often use ‘study groups’ as a way to hang out outside of school.

As a parent, you could try and have a discussion with your child about what they’ve learnt. Combining this with flash cards is a perfect way for parents to contribute to their child’s study.

Do something while you study

Tap a pencil, squeeze a stress ball, or do something to occupy the want to do something with their hands without becoming a distraction.

Just make sure that this doesn’t become a distraction itself!

 

A note about music while studying

Kinesthetic learners tend to be less distracted by music while studying than other people, although this is a personal debate.

I personally don’t study very well without listening to loud rock music. But I know that as soon as I get a little bit distracted, off it goes!

Your child should know what feels right for them, so let them have a play around and figure out what conditions they need to study best.

If you or your child is a Kinesthetic learner, and you have a suggestion for us to add to the list we’d love to hear it! Tell us here.

 

A cautionary note

Unfortunately, most people don’t fit perfectly into one of the four learning style categories.

So, what does this mean? It means that your child should explore different ways of learning and choose to use the ones that they find most useful.

For more study tips, check out the other learning styles: Auditory Learning, Read & Write Learning, Visual Learning.

Comments

  1. That is sooooooo like me!

  2. Jennifer says:

    I’m a kinesthetic/experiential learner and a dance teacher now. I learn best through doing and mostly doing only. But this doesn’t mean I cannot focus on things for long. In fact, when I’m doing something I’m truly engaged in, i remain very focused and hate to be disturbed. If I love a topic or a book, I can read for hours. I do best in lectures when I keep writing down notes.

    Music and doing other fidgety things only serve to distract me more. I believe the key is being able to explore topics that interest me.

    • Hi Jennifer, thanks for your comment. And thank you for sharing your own experiences – hopefully other kinesthetic learners can learn from what you do. I think the more study techniques we have to try, and the more we think about making our own ‘study formula’ the best for us, the better we’ll get at learning and studying.

  3. I am reading this article and am feeling as if it is a report about Me! Wow! It describes me so specifically.
    Thank you so much for all the information. I have learned so Much! =)

  4. Reading this article makes me feel as if it is a report about Me! Wow, It describes me so specifically.

    Thank you so much for all the information. I have learned so Much! =)

  5. This describes me

  6. I found this article extremely useful. I strongly believe that your study type should be highlighted when you are in full-time education as it’s crucial when you get out into the big wide world.

    As someone who struggled with studying at school, I can look back now and see where I went wrong (long periods looking at books and notes) instead of breaking time down into shorter 10 minute windows as I do now.

    Since identifying myself as a kinesthetic learner, I have found life so much easier and studying a new topic or subject is now a pleasure, not a chore.

    • That’s great to hear Paul thank you for sharing! Great to hear of a real life example where someone has figured out their ‘learning type’ and put it to good use.

  7. I’m a kinaesthetic learner trying to find different ways to study and this article has helped me a lot. I tried starting off by doing some flash cards on the computer on a site called studystack until I get some paper flashcards. But what I find useful about this site is that it has a variety of different games you can play that match what you have put down on your cards. Anything I’m stuck or unsure about I would leave the box blank until I spoke to the teacher the next time I saw them. Idk if this method works yet as i’m still trying to find out ways in which to improve my revision. One thing that does bug me though is that I was diagnosed as a “slow learner” + “anxiety” which must have an affect on my learning so sometimes it takes a while to remember things instantly. If someone showed me something on the computer then the next time I revisited it I would remember instantly. But unfortunately in life you have to study otherwise you’ll get no where. Idk if anyone has any other tips that could help with slow learning with a kinesthetic learning style or if people have been in my situation before.

    • Hi Ashleigh! I think it’s great that you know what type of learner you are are what you’re not as good at, because now you can start finding the study techniques that DO work for you. It sounds like your flashcards study is a great start :)

  8. I had lots of trouble really enjoying school in my youth. After making many mistakes soon after high school, I realized that I was going down the wrong path. This was due to my educational environment and my inability to learn efficiently. So after direct experience with the life lessons that were inefficiently taught to me in school, I am now double majoring in Psychology and Business…I am too, a kinesthetic learner, and I learned most best with what I enjoyed. So if you can teach a child to associate fun to learning he will always want to learn!

    • That’s so spot on JP! If you can make studying/learning more enjoyable somehow then absolutely it’s going to help you in every way. That’s so great that you figured out your learning style and are now applying it with fantastic results! Amazing!

  9. Im so like that i feel like i just cant sit down reading a book so i never studied in 1st or 2nd year and still did really well in exam and had no idea why bit i guess i just remember what has being said by the teacher. When i was in an exam and didnt know the answer or thought i remembered some if it i would just listen to what my teachers would have said and what they would say about it and then remember the answer!

  10. This may sound crazy, but I never knew until today that I am a kinesthetic learner. With graduate school being in the past, my mind is blown by this information. I agree with Jennifer, if I’m engrossed in a project (which happens often) I will want to keep doing it until I’m either exhausted or finished; especially with painting. I’m a Nurse and school was/is hard for me. Nursing lectures are long 3-4 hours and I didn’t know why I had such a hard time with that. I somehow managed to figure out a system to get through it, but I know my grades have never reflected my true knowledge. Clinically, I’ve always been one of the best, but my grades don’t show it. I feel relieved that what used to be referred to as my “hyperactive” behavior from grade school can be explained by this.

    I always felt like the school system had failed me. I’ve always believed that there is so much more to intelligence than what some silly test says. I always have a reason for every answer I pick on a test. I can explain why I picked it and give valid points for why I did pick it, but those reasons why don’t matter to the school system. I hope one day that is another barrier that can be broken down. Tests should not define people. It’s sad that schools will base their entire program reputation on standardized test pass rates. There’s something wrong with a system so outdated and so limiting (and to me, painful). I have struggled (academically) to succeed in my field because of nursing tests. It should not have to be this hard. I was told by many nursing instructors to quit school undergrad, and even in graduate school as well because of this. It’s sad to me that they didn’t step back and consider that I am the type of learner who just doesn’t fit in the cookie cutter system. This “kinesthetic learner” thing has finally validated so many of my feelings throughout my years as a struggling student.

    It’s sad to me that some instructors, especially in nursing, will just tell you to quit. Does my ability to take a written test define me as a nurse?! Now I know that it does not. The system we have in place is archaic and needs to change. I hope nursing schools will follow suit and try to discover a system that isn’t broken.

    • Thank you for sharing your inspiring story Diana. It’s amazing how many people seem to fall into this category where they absolutely do have the brains but don’t do well in traditional school tests/exams. It is really unfortunately that traditional school exams don’t cater terribly well for the kinaesthetic learners, but you guys are amazing at stuff that reader/writer learners like me couldn’t do in a million years!
      What a good job you’ve persevered with nursing and didn’t listen to those who told you to quit!

    • 2ndGenNurse says:

      Diana,

      Thank you for writing this article. I’m a kinesthetic learner as well. I’m also a nursing student. I can answer many of the questions in class and I do well in clinical but tests are not my strong point. I’m happy to see that I’m not alone. I definitely think nursing schools should reconsider the whole testing only thing because so much of what nurses do is “doing skill based work and critical thinking. Kinesthetic learners will excel. I have one professor who is excellent. He does case study and groups us during class. I really love his approach to learning because it allows me to do something besides sit there for hours on end. Getting past the testing hell is the real challenge for us not actually being successful at nursing. I think it’s sad that some people feel there is only one way to success. Thanks for sharing your story Diana!

  11. I think I’m half visual and kinesthetic learner. Is that possible?

    • Absolutely Amira! Whilst figuring out your predominant learning style can be really useful, it certainly doesn’t mean you should discount other study techniques. Different people will be different amounts of the different learning styles. It’s just a matter of figuring out what works for you, and figuring out your predominant learning style can be a great start.

  12. Gillian Holmes says:

    This is definitely me even though i’m an amazing speller and i hate most sports…..

  13. I find using music that does not include lyrics such as piano music or industrial/techno. Music with certain tempos(without lyrics) tend to give me the boost in study I need. Youtube artists such as secede and Kettle or Ulrich Shnauss or even Maxene Cyrin. Also studying in low light with the combination of this music has helped. In puts me “in the zone” sort of speak. Definitely, flash cards and any not so boring repetitive learning has helped in the past.

    Good Luck!

  14. im in middle school and elementary school was very easy for me and a i got to 6th and 7th grade it became such a struggle but i went to my school councilor and i took a quiz and im a kinethstetic learner and now that i understand how to learn its helped me lot!

  15. This article describes me completely. I am in nursing school and I have to study with some sort of noise, either tv or music. Complete silence relaxes or bores me. I learn best by using flashcards or rewriting information. Thank you for posting this! Its extremely useful. :-)

  16. I think I’m a combination of a Kinesthetic, Auditory, and Visual learner. I don’t remember things for long if I don’t actually do them myself, but I have a hard time learning in the first place if the information isn’t outright explained out loud to me. I like being able to listen to what the teacher says, visualize it, discuss it until I have the visualization in my head down right, and then do practice with it so I completely understand and remember how everything comes together.
    College is terrible for this, or at least being a computer science major at my college. I’m expected to completely understand something and remember it because my professor briefly mentioned it during lecture. And then I’m given assignments that I have to figure out on my own with only the bare underlying concepts explained to me, that I got no physical practice with, so I don’t even have those fully understood.

    • Hi Eric, you may very well be a combination of the learning style categories. By the sounds of it, it’s going to be really important for you to take decent notes in class so that you can at least note down what the professor has said, even if they only mentioned it briefly. Generally studying at college is a lot more self-directed than at high school, and unfortunately there are times you have to figure something out on your own. Maybe you could see if your friends are having the same problem and nut out a few things together. Also, I don’t know what your situation is, but maybe you could ask the professor outside of class to explain the things you’re having trouble with. I’ve found this to be really helpful, and I think students who are too embarrassed or scared to ask for help miss out.

  17. George Wells says:

    Hi, just read about this style of learner from a school presentation in UK, my step son may fit into the Kinesthetic learner category though not 100%,( he has mild dyslexia and not good at remembering how to solve math problems, but doubt if anyone fits something 100% but really helpful for me to explore various methods of helping him in his studies. I will be doing more research on learning styles as a result of reading your website.. keep up the good work, George in Cornwall UK

    • Hi George, thank you for your comment. I completely agree that it would be less common for students to benefit from the techniques of only one learning style, but knowing what your predominant learning style is can be such a help in focusing a student’s study and improving their productivity. I hope your son will benefit from some kinesthetic learning techniques. Good luck with your research, I’d love to hear about your findings!

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  19. I’ve just been told my daughter has a small problem concentrating for long periods of time in class however at home she will sit still for hours building Lego or making anything really. She loves physically play, bike riding etc….. I am now sure she is a kinesthetic learner. She gets along with Adults and is a real hugger- hence her tactile nature. She’s abit slow when writing, reading. I understand sometimes she has to sit still in class but how can I explain to her teacher she is this type of learner rather than a ‘distracted’ child?

    • It’s unfortunate that kinesthetic learner a get a bad reputation for being “fidgitity”. There are many bright and intelligent people who learn best when physically engaged. If your daughter has good teachers that are eager to help children learn perhaps requesting a meeting with the teacher(s) while providing research on kinesthetic learners could be beneficial. You could do a search on google scholar.

    • Unfortunately – and as it seems you are discovering – for the most part, the classroom runs on the ‘reader writer’ learning style. Hopefully if you tell your daughter’s teacher exactly what you’ve just said here, they’ll understand and maybe ‘deal’ with your daughter better. The bad news is that the way classrooms operate is unlikely to change, and the focus on the ‘reader writer’ style of learning only increases as students go through high school. The good news is that you are aware of this nice and early, and so can help your daughter understand as she gets older that she will probably need to learn and study in a different way to how it is taught in class in order for her to fully understand what is going on. I’m far from an expert on young childrens’ learning, so all I can really say is that it’s great that you’re aware of this early on, there is no doubt your daughter will benefit from this.

  20. My son is struggling with reading also. While he’s an excellent speller…. he fits all other criteria for the kinesthetic learner. Problem is that reading is the key for all further learning, he’s moving on to the 4th grade. Any suggestions as to some ideas for getting the reading to ‘click’ for him. We’ve got him in a reading intervention program through the local college, he enjoys going (yeah!) I liked the idea with the stress ball too…. he’s so darn smart, it’s hard to see him struggle and not be able to help.

    • Sounds like you’re off to a great start with the reading program, that’s fantastic. As far as other ideas go to help with the reading – and please forgive me if these are totally obvious ideas – I would make sure he is reading material/books that he ENJOYS as much as possible. I wasn’t too keen on reading when I was a young teenager, but I still devoured Harry Potter books in a couple of days. If there are particular words that he is struggling with, you could try and put these up on the wall in his bedroom or somewhere he will see them often. One of the reasons why some kids struggle with reading is because they can’t visualise the words as easily, so having them stuck up on the wall nice and big can help with this. Other than that, I’m afraid I’m no expert on younger children’s learning. It looks like there are some good resources out there though written by experts. I just came across this one: http://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/reading-site/expert-help/helping-struggling-readers I’m sure that if you keep doing what your doing – especially carrying on with the reading program – the results will come, it might just take a little while to see them. Best of luck :)

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