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Published on December 26, 2019

5 Characteristics of a Kinesthetic Learner

5 Characteristics of a Kinesthetic Learner

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[1] 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.[2] 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.

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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.[3] 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Bottom Line

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

Featured photo credit: Kat Stokes via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

Do you forget stuff every now and then? Are you trying to enhance your memory but not sure how?

All you need is the right memorization techniques to make the most of your memory.

The human brain is fascinating. More specifically, the vast interconnections within our mind. Mendel Kaelen compares the human brain to a hill covered in snow,

“Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into preexisting trails, almost like a magnet. In time it becomes more and more difficulty to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction.”

The intent of Kaelen’s discussion is to think of new ways to temporarily flatten the snow. Kaelen remarked,

“The deeply worn trails disappear, and suddenly the sled can go in other directions, exploring new landscapes and, literally, creating new pathways.”

The idea here is to temporarily rewire your brain, or as Michael Pollan remarked in How to Change Your Mind,

“The power to shake the snow globe, disrupting unhealthy patterns of thought and creating a space of flexibility-entropy-in which more salubrious patterns and narratives have an opportunity to coalesce as the snow slowly settles.”

So, how can we rewire our brain allowing deeply worn connections to disappear and new connections to form? The answer is quite simple. We must change the way we store information in our mind.

    Let’s examine 5 specific memorization techniques that will change the way you think and remember information.

    1. Build a Memory Palace

      What is it?

      The method of loci[1] (aka memory palace) is a method of memory enhancement using visualizations with the use of spatial memory. It uses familiar information about your environment to quickly recall information. It is a method that was discussed by Cicero in an ancient dialogue called De Oratore.

      How to use it?

      Ron White discusses in How to Memorize Fast and Easily: Build a Memory Palace, that it’s essentially a room or building that you have memorized and you use locations in the room to store data. Ron informs us,

      “You memorize locations in a room and then you later go back to those locations to retrieve the data that you want to remember.”

      Example

      An easy 5-step example, in the form of a Wiki, can be found at Artofmemory.com. Let’s examine the the steps:

      • Step 1. Choose a place that you know well. For example, your house or office.
      • Step 2. Plan the route and pick specific locations in your route. For example, your front door, bathroom kitchen, etc.
      • Step 3. Decide what you want to memorize. For example, geography, list of items, answers for a test, etc.
      • Step 4. Place one or two items, with a mental image, and place them in your memory palace. Exaggerate your images. For example, use nudity or crazy images forcing it to stick in your mind.
      • Step 5. Make the image into a mnemonic.

      You can learn more about this technique here: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

      2. Mnemonic

        What is it?

        A mnemonic is a memory device that aids in retention and/or retrieval of information. Mnemonic systems are techniques consciously used to improve memory by helping us use information already stored in long-term memory to make memorization easier.[2]

        How to use it?

        Mnemonics make use of retrieval cues to encode information in our brain allowing for efficient storage and retrieval of the information. The trick is to learn how to easily create mnemonics. If you find that you struggle with creating your own, try the following website: Mnemonic Generator.

        Example

        I recently came across a video using mnemonics to memorize countries. Memorizing Countries using Mnemonics is a video created as an introduction to a class for using memory techniques to learn the names of countries on maps.

        I actively search for videos that provide enormous educational value, yet receive very little exposure. At the time of this writing, this video has received less than 4k views. Let’s examine the video.

        Goal: Create a mnemonic to memorize the countries in the Caribbean (just the countries you need to learn).

        Step 1. Looking at a map – write out each country (for which five were chosen).

        Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico.

        Step 2. Write the first letter of each country vertically.

        C

        J

        H

        D

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        P

        Step 3. Create a sentence or phrase.

        Cubs

        Just

        Hate

        Doing

        Push-ups

        Cubs just hate doing push-ups. (Cuba Jamaica Haiti Dominican Republic Puerto Rico)

        3. Mnemonic Peg System

          What is it?

          According to Artofmemory.com, a mnemonic peg system is a technique for memorizing lists and it works by memorizing a list of words that are easy to associate with the numbers they represent.[3] These objects are the pegs of the system.

          How to use it?

          The trick is to create a Number Rhyme System with each number having a rhyming mnemonic keyword.

          Example

          Let’s look at an example of a Number Rhyme System:[4]

          0 = hero

          1 = gun

          2 = shoe

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          3 = tree

          4 = door

          5 = hive

          6 = sticks

          7 = heaven

          8 = gate

          9 = line

          Another technique like the Peg system is the Number Shape System.[5] Here you are assigning mnemonic images based on the shape of the number. Watch the following video for an example of this system: Number Shape System for Memorizing Numbers.

          4. Chunking

            What is it?

            Chunking is a way to remember large bits of information by chunking them into smaller pieces of information. We are more likely to then remember the information when we put the small pieces back together to see the entire picture.

            How to use it?

            In the video Chunking – A Learning Technique, we can see that there are several ways to chunk information.

            Example

            Let’s examine a simple example using a nine-digit number.

            Step 1. What is the number you are trying to remember?

            081127882

            Step 2. Cut the number into smaller pieces through chunking.

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            081 – 127 – 882

            Let’s look at one more example from the same video.

            “Piano teachers will first demonstrate an entire song to students. They will then ask their students to practice one measure at a time. Once the part has been learned and the neural connections in the brain have been built, then students go on to the next measure. After all chunks have been played separately, they are combined until the entire piece is connected.”

            5. Transfer of Learning

              What is it?

              Transfer of learning is a way to learn something in one area and apply it in another. Authors of Thinking at Every Desk, Derek and Laura Cabrera inform us about the transfer of learning,

              “If a student has a high transfer skills, she can learn one thing and then teach herself 10, 50, or 100 additional things.”

              How to use it?

              There are two specific ways to use it:

              1. Vertical Transfer (aka Far Transfer). Think of learning something in grade school and applying it another grade or later in life.
              2. Horizontal Transfer (aka Near Transfer). Think of learning a concept in history and applying it in math.

              Example

              I provide a detailed step-by-step example for this technique in this article:

              Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily

              The Bottom Line

              The key to using the techniques discussed here is to remember that we must actively think about information.

              We cannot simply drill information into our brain through rote memorization. We must change the way we think about memorization. We must find a way to “shake the snow-globe” in our mind or flatten the snow so that we can create new learning paths.

              Or as Derek and Laura Cabrera point out, we must insert “Thinking” into the equation,

              “Information X Thinking = Knowledge”

              More About Enhancing Memories

              Featured photo credit: Nong Vang via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Remember Everything: Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci
              [2] The Learning Center Exchange: 9 Types of Mnemonics for Better Memory
              [3] Art of Memory: Mnemonic Peg System
              [4] Art of Memory: Number Rhyme System
              [5] Art of Memory: Number Shape System

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