Learning is a part of human nature. We are avid learners, and each of us has an individual learning style preference. Learning is a beneficial activity: the better a person is at learning and developing new skills or concepts, the more successful they are likely to be in a particular field.
Experts have studied the human brain’s ability to learn new things. With this knowledge, they have developed various learning style models. One of these is the VARK model or method: visual, aural, read/write, and kinesthetic. VARK explains that we learn things by watching, listening, reading and writing, and/or doing.
Kinesthetic learners prefer hands-on, interactive, and physical approaches to learning. They like to be an active participant and learn through whole body movement, especially when compared to tactile learners and auditory learners. They also prefer practical or real life experiences over theoretical concepts. Here are 5 common characteristics of kinesthetic learners:
1. Movement is Key
The primary characteristic of kinesthetic learners is movement! They learn easier using whole-body movement and their tactile senses. This is why they often wiggle, bounce, swing their legs, sway, tap, and seem unable to sit still. Movement helps students retain information quicker and easier than other techniques and allows them to think more clearly.
2. Coordinated & Physically Skilled
Kinesthetic learners typically have great hand-eye coordination and quick reactions. They often excel at sports and other physical activities, such as dancing. They also have excellent proprioception, which is one’s awareness or sense of their body in space. This phenomenon is also known as kinesthesia.
3. Enjoy Using Manipulatives
People with this learning style enjoy using manipulatives while learning. Manipulatives are tactile objects that students can use to explore ideas, which create an active, hands-on experience. This approach allows students to use their tactile senses, which is how kinesthetic students learn best.
A kinesthetic learning style also aids the development of fine and gross motor movement as part of the learning process. Manipulatives also give students direct involvement with the material they are learning, which is often preferred over worksheets or reading from a book.
4. Excellent Physical Memory
A fourth characteristic of kinesthetic learners is that they learn quickly and have excellent physical memory. Movement-based learning helps students learn better because physical activity improves blood flow and oxygen to the brain, making it easier to remember and recall. These learners retain information easier since they learn better by doing. This means that they tend to have a brilliant memory.
5. Problem Solvers
Finally, this type of learner is usually better at problem-solving. They like to experiment and break down concepts and processes to figure things out and learn through trial and error. They are active in the learning process and find new ways to solve problems.
This type of learning learning also encourages these students to solve problems more creatively. They love to break down and rebuild concepts and processes to learn more about them. Kinesthetic learning also boosts their analytical and critical thinking skills.
- They learn better when they are allowed to move around. If students can move around while being taught a concept (e.g. during a field trip) and/or use movement to illustrate it, the information sticks.
- They love to move, interact, and experiment within their learning environment.
- They often excel in movement activities such as physical education and sports.
- They like to use objects such as blocks, colorful tiles, or linking cubes for a tactile learning experience.
- They learn better by doing. Movement and using a hands-on experience helps them retain information easier than reading, writing, and/or listening.
- They tend to lose interest in a traditional classroom when reading books and filling out worksheets.
- They enjoy building things and working with their hands.
- They prefer to be an active participant and directly involved in what they are learning.
- They love to try new things.
- They are excellent problem solvers.
Adding kinesthetic learning to the classroom can be beneficial to all students. Movement-based learning can help increase attention span and focus. Incorporating it into lessons makes learning fun and more engaging.
Take a look at the data backing the benefits of movement-based learning here!
You can also read more research about kinesthetic learning on our partner’s website, the National Math Foundation.