What is Kinesthetic Learning?

As individuals, we all learn best in different ways. Some students like to make notes, copy information, test themselves as they go along, discuss the topic with a group, create mind maps, carry out projects, design and make things, watch videos, look at diagrams, read facts and figures - the list goes on. There are so many approaches we can take towards learning, but there are simply too many children in a classroom to cater for all of these individually. Instead, we have three main learning categories that most people will fall into: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. In this article, we will be taking a look at kinesthetic learning, what it is, how learners of this type work, and what kinds of activities they may find useful.

Before we look at the types of activities kinesthetic learning entails, we must understand how such learners best absorb information. Essentially, kinesthetic learners learn by doing, and this encompasses practical activities, as well as acting and anything else that demands physical work.

As a style, kinesthetic learning could be described as very 'hands-on'. Pupils who struggle to sit still and concentrate for a long time, but rather act very fidgety, are likely to be learners of this type. It's worth considering this when making lesson plans; teachers should build in small breaks for students to let off a bit of steam and rejuvenate, so that they're ready for the next session.

When they're not having a break, but are in the middle of a lesson, there really are a range of activities that are ideal for kinesthetic learners to take advantage of. When studying a play - particularly if it's something they find laborious like Shakespeare - rather than just reading and analyzing it, encourage pupils to create role plays and act out specific scenes. It's surprising just how much information they retain from bringing the text to life, rather than just staring blankly at a piece of paper.

In science, try to carry out experiments as often as possible to capture the students' imaginations. Help them in making predictions about what is going to happen, before giving them instructions and supporting them in carrying out their tasks. They can then compare what they thought at the start with the end results, and learn from the things they got right and wrong.

There will be times, though, when practical work like this isn't possible. Still, even when theoretical activities are necessary, don't be afraid to stir in a bit of lightheartedness. Have small intervals for 'brain-gym' exercises every 20 minutes. This can include jumping up and down on the spot, bending over and touching toes, or anything else that raises the pulse and gets those creative juices flowing!

When it comes to kinesthetic learning, flexibility is key. There are so many options to be explored, and the most important thing to remember is to just get stuck in! Around 15% of people learn kinesthetically, but just because this segment of the population find reading and listening difficult to learn from doesn't mean they aren't as intelligent. Learning from doing and being active has been scientifically proven to be equally effective, so who ever said that learning couldn't be fun was wrong!