Learning has always been a part of human nature. As toddlers, we all learn to crawl, walk, and talk. We then attend schools and colleges to develop new skills. It will not be wrong to say that we all are avid learners.
Learning, in itself, is a beneficial activity. The better a person is at learning new skills or concepts, the more successful they can be in a particular field. Many experts have tried to understand the mechanism behind how our brain learns new things. They have developed various models of learning styles, among which the VARK model is quite popular.
VARK stands for visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. According to this theory, we learn things either by watching, listening, reading/writing or by doing. Out of these four methods, in this article, we will discuss kinesthetic learning.
What is Kinesthetic Learning?
Kinesthetic learning, in simple terms, is learning by doing. So a kinesthetic learner is a type of learner who learns best by actively participating in the learning process.
Such learners need to be engaged in some activity in order to learn effectively. The activity can be physical or mental. For example, if a kinesthetic learner wants to learn English vocabulary, they may do so by playing crosswords instead of picking up a dictionary.
Whether you are a kinesthetic learner or not, you can definitely relate to the process of kinesthetic learning.
Remember as a child, when you learned to play a sport by actually playing it? Be it football, cricket, or basketball, you can’t learn to play them by reading a book or by looking at other people playing.
You must play the game to learn it properly. This is nothing but a type of kinesthetic learning.
Characteristics of a Kinesthetic Learner
Kinesthetic learners, as the name suggests, are people who learn best when they perform some relevant actions. As such, a classroom lecture may not be the best setting for them. They prefer to learn through activity, so sitting still and listening to others will be difficult for them.
Subjects that are heavily focused on theoretical aspects may not be the best choice for kinesthetic learners. They will do much better in fields that require muscle movement and practice. For example, a kinesthetic learner will more likely succeed as a painter or musician, than as a theoretical physicist.
Here’re 5 characteristics of a knesthetic learner:
1. They Never Get Bored of Learning
The process of learning is always enjoyable for kinesthetic learners because they are personally involved in it. Sitting in a classroom, hearing the professor’s lectures, or watching a documentary is what we call “passive learning.” We call it so because it doesn’t require active participation from the learner. They only need to focus on their sense of vision or hearing.
But kinesthetic learners are active learners. They turn the learning process into an activity, like a fun game or hands-on experience. That is why they never get bored with their style of learning. In fact, every learning process is an opportunity for them to try new activities.
2. They Learn Skills Better Than Concepts
Facts and concepts can be learned by reading and listening. But skills cannot be acquired without practice. That is why kinesthetic learners are more suited for skill-based activities rather than concept-based subjects.
It does not imply that such people are always bad at conceptual subjects like science or math. It just means that learning skills will be easier for them than grasping a concept. The process of practicing and improving skills resonates better with their style of learning.
However, they can still learn conceptual topics as well, as long as they find a way to create some sort of activity regarding the concepts.
3. They Are Unlikely to Forget What They Have Learned
Kinesthetic learners usually don’t forget what they have learned. Our brain can store information as well as memories. Memories are easier to remember and recall as compared to information. We can clearly remember memories from years ago, but we easily forget what we had heard in the news a month ago.
So it means that actions (things we do/did) are easier to remember than sensory information (things we see/hear/read). Since kinesthetic learners learn through actions, they won’t forget what they have learned any time soon.
4. They Are Better at Innovating Than Implementing
People can be divided into two categories – those who innovate and those who implement. The innovators are people who give birth to new concepts, discoveries, and inventions. The implementers are those who make use of the existing concepts, ideas, theories, and information.
Kinesthetic learners are curious by nature. And because of their preference for learning through action, they love to experiment. As such, they show more interest in gaining new information and experience. They may enjoy working in areas of research or engineering.
5. They make learning fun for those around them.
Kinesthetic learners really enjoy learning in groups. In fact, it boosts their learning process when there are more people involved. There are more opportunities for engaging in interesting learning activities when more than one person is involved.
The main focus of kinesthetic learners is to be physically and mentally invested in the learning process. And when they are in a group, they will want to include everyone in the process. So, people enjoy learning with kinesthetic learners even if they themselves aren’t one.
Struggles Kinesthetic Learners Face (And How to Tackle Them)
The main problem faced by kinesthetic learners is that they don’t fit well into the formal education style. Kids need to adapt themselves to classroom learning. Even adults have to sit through office meetings, where issues are discussed orally or visually. A kinesthetic learner may struggle in such scenarios.
Another challenge for such learners is choosing the right subjects and career paths. As mentioned above, they should pick areas that involve the right mix of actions and learning such as sports, music, research, or engineering.
However, just because a person is a kinesthetic learner doesn’t mean they can just avoid formal education altogether. If teachers or parents are aware that the child is a kinesthetic learner, it is their responsibility to help the child. For example, teachers can conduct some activities in the classroom from time to time. It’s even better if the activity is related to the subjects that are taught.
How can kinesthetic learners get over these challenges?
More Practice, Fewer Theories
Adult kinesthetic must choose a field of study that is based more on practice, and less on theories.
During the lectures, even if they feel bored or don’t understand what is being taught, they can make small notes about the important topics that were discussed. Later on, they can figure out creative ways to understand the topics in their notes. They can even ask the professors for assistance to find practical ways of learning what was discussed in lectures.
Make Learning Fun
Apart from the classroom scenario, kinesthetic learners also face troubles when learning by themselves. Unlike other learners, they can’t just sit and open a book and start going through it. They must incorporate some fun techniques into their learning time to make it an active and fun process.
If you’re a kinesthetic learner and want to learn more effectively, make your own flashcards. That way, you can turn the learning process into an enjoyable game. It will help you remember your notes faster as well.
Practice or Enact What You’ve Learned Right Away
Another technique is that after every few minutes of studying the contents of a book or learning something new, spend the next few minutes practicing or enacting what you have learned. Basically, it’s like alternating between reading, and doing some activity related to what you’ve read.
For example, you may have learned some new Spanish vocabularies or phrases for a few minutes, and then do a role play oral practice with yourself and record yourself speaking these vocabularies or phrases. Alternating the style of learning in this way will be very effective in learning concepts as well as memorizing facts.
Like every style of learning, kinesthetic learning has its pros and cons. It’s up to the learner to make the best use of their positive traits while overcoming their shortcomings.
In the end, what matters most is that you shouldn’t worry about what you cannot do, and fully focus on what you do best. And most importantly, you should never stop exploring the world around you. For kinesthetic learners, the best learning resource is your surrounding itself!
More About Effective Learning
- 7 Best Ways of Learning Effectively
- 4 Learning Styles to Help You Learn Faster and Smarter
- 13 Ways to Develop Self-Directed Learning and Learn Faster
- 7 Steps to Make Self-Learning Effective for You
Featured photo credit: Kat Stokes via unsplash.com