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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Learn Effectively With Kinesthetic Learning Style

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How To Learn Effectively With Kinesthetic Learning Style

My daughter is always on the go. She’s not one of those children who sit still for hours musing over a toy or a book. Nope. She’s much more likely to be jumping off the sofa like some kind of WWE wrestler or running back and forth, pushing herself off the walls—also like some kind of WWE wrestler. So, instead of trying to force her to sit still and learn her letters, I try to use activities for people with kinesthetic learning styles to make learning better suited for her current developmental stage.

The 4 Learning Styles

You’ve probably heard about learning styles by now. Maybe someone claimed that they were a visual learner, or a teacher dubbed you an auditory learner. Learning styles began in the 1990s when New Zealander Neil Fleming created a questionnaire to assess how people preferred to learn new information. This questionnaire is known as the VARK and is still used to determine people’s learning styles today.

There are four main learning styles according to Fleming’s VARK questionnaire:

  • Visual – Visual learners like to see new information. They prefer charts, graphs, and films over reading or hearing information—think images over sounds, movements, or written words.
  • Auditory or Aural – Auditory learners prefer to hear new information. They tend to be drawn to audiobooks and music.
  • Reading/Writing – Reading/writing learners prefer to do exactly that—read and write. They focus well when reading new information and readily process information by taking notes.
  • Kinesthetic – Kinesthetic learners are drawn to movement. They tend to be out of their seats figuring out new information spatially and physically.

Problem With Fleming’s Learning Styles

Because we’ve had nearly thirty years to study the efficacy of Fleming’s learning styles, we now know that learning styles are only a preference. Using your preferred learning style does not actually improve learning outcomes. That means if you prefer visual inputs, charts and graphs may be more comfortable for you, but using them doesn’t help you learn more.

A better way to think about learning styles is as learning preferences, but if you want to boost your learning, you should focus more on matching the learning style with the task at hand.

For example, I struggle with auditory information. When someone spells something aloud, I have a tough time processing what they’re spelling. However, I’ve had success with auditory input when I’m memorizing lines for a play or learning the lyrics of a song. Instead of saying that I’m a reading/writing learner or a visual learner, I know that my learning style depends on what it is I’m trying to learn.

What Are Kinesthetic Learning Styles?

Kinesthetic learning is embodied, active, and tactile. Instead of listening to a lecture or reading a book, the kinesthetic learning style involves moving through space. Even if you consider yourself more of a visual, auditory, or reading/writing learner, kinesthetic learning techniques can help you energize and memorize new information.

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1. Energize

Kinesthetic learning techniques are a great way to wake up and get the blood pumping, which can help you study longer. If you find yourself yawning or falling asleep, you may want to stand up and move or get creative more with your learning strategies.

2. Memorize

Kinesthetic learning techniques are also a great way to unconsciously memorize new information. Procedural memory is when your body knows how to do something without you having to think consciously about it.

Think about riding a bike. If you had to think about every complicated step involved in bike riding, you’d crash every time you even attempted it. But procedural memory allows your body to just do it.

You can use your procedural memory to expand the amount of information you learn. When you get new information “in the body,” you’re really recording it as procedural memory, and you can memorize way more unconsciously than you can consciously.

Get the Most Out of Kinesthetic Learning Styles

Let’s say I’ve convinced you to try kinesthetic learning techniques. Besides just standing up and moving through space, here’s a more specific list of ways you can get the most of kinesthetic learning styles:

1. Get Up

The first and simplest way to get kinesthetic is to stand up. That’s right—get out of your chair. Get a standing desk or take a walk while you think something over. Since a kinesthetic learning style has to do with movement, the first step is to stand up and get moving.

2. Move Through Space

The next trick for kinesthetic learning styles is to move. Walk around while you memorize, process new information, or try to solve problems.

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I like to pace when I’m on a phone call or walk the dog when I’m having some writer’s block. This helps get the blood pumping and helps keep me alert and creative.

3. Make It Tactile

Another way to make learning kinesthetic is to make it tactile. Incorporate objects that you can move around. Use index cards hung around the room to develop a plot or an essay. Make a model of the solar system instead of just reading about it. Create a physical flashcard deck to memorize new things instead of learning them on the computer or from a book.

The more you can cut, paste, shape, bend, fold, and manipulate, the better.

4. Place Things Places

One way that I tried to accommodate my daughter’s current kinesthetic learning style is by placing letters around the room. I then asked her to stand in the middle of the room and run to a certain letter. This approach was successful for a few reasons.

First, by making learning a game—or “gamifying”—I was making it fun and competitive, which kept my daughter engaged for longer.[1]

Second, by making letter-learning active, I was able to keep my daughter’s energy up, which kept the blood and oxygen pumping to her brain. This stimulates learning.

Finally, by placing letters around the room, my daughter was associating letters spatially. This helps make learning more concrete and less abstract. The A is in the kitchen, and the B is in the dining room, instead of just being letters on a page. This helps give her another way to distinguish the letters. Just make sure to switch it up, so you’re not always associating one concept with one place.

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This concept is also a great way to learn a new language. Put Post-It notes with your target language vocabulary all over the house. Put the word “mirror” on your mirror and the word “window” on your window.

This helps you learn throughout the day, but it also helps you associate the new word with the concept itself. When you look in the mirror, you are learning the new word for mirror. That’s context. It’s much easier to learn with context than by reading the new vocabulary word over and over.

I’ve also used this technique when I taught the areas of the stage. I drew a large grid on the floor and would yell out a stage direction—stage left or stage right or downstage center—then the class would have to run to that square on the grid as fast as they could. Because stage directions are already spatial, this kind of kinesthetic learning matches the learning task.

This technique could be effective for learning planets or geography. Get creative and place things places to make learning an embodied, spatial experience.

5. Combine Movements With Ideas

Another way to make learning kinesthetic is to combine movements with ideas. Trying to learn historical dates? Combine them with specific movements—mime rowing when you say 1492, Mime a guillotine when you yell 1789, or a falling wall for 1989. You get the idea.

By combining a movement with a concept, fact, or idea, you are increasing the likelihood that you’ll initiate your procedural memory and store that new knowledge in long-term memory.

6. Walking While You Work

You can also walk while you work. I’ve seen people work while on a treadmill and walk with a friend as they map out the structure for a new project. Walking is a great way to get unstuck. If you’re getting tired or bored or frustrated, get up, get out, and take a walk as you continue to learn, process, and create.

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7. Exercise While You Learn

I’m also a big fan of exercising while you learn. In grad school, I would carve out time at the gym almost every day. This wasn’t a way to avoid my schoolwork. It was actually a time when learning came more easily.

Something about running on the treadmill or stepping on that elliptical machine distracted me enough to lower my stress and anxiety. I always found learning much less effortful when I was incorporating exercise. So, get to the gym and pump some iron while you memorize, quiz yourself, and study yourself smart.

Final Thoughts

You may not consider yourself a kinesthetic learner. I know I don’t. But that doesn’t mean kinesthetic learning techniques can’t help you learn better.

Moving through space and manipulating objects are great ways to get more parts of your brain involved in the learning process. So, get out of that desk chair and get moving to make kinesthetic learning work for you.

More About Learning Styles

Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Play Your Way Sane: How to be more Playful: Gamify your Life

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Clay Drinko

Clay Drinko is an educator and the author of PLAY YOUR WAY SANE (January 2021 Simon & Schuster)

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Last Updated on August 11, 2021

23 Killer Sites for Free Online Education Anyone Can Use

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23 Killer Sites for Free Online Education Anyone Can Use

Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless. Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent, free online education awaits on the following 23 sites.

1. Coursera

Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups. However, the free courses are now quite limited, so you’ll have to

2. Khan Academy

Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well-organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

Among the more well-known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly user-friendly, which may make it easier to keep learning goals. If you’re looking for a free online education, you can’t go wrong with Khan Academy.

3. Open Culture Online Courses

If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos, and podcasts from universities around the world.

The site features a lot of material found only on universities’ private sites, all in easy-to-browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses without having to visit and search each university’s site.

Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales, and many state universities around the United States. It’s a very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

4. Udemy 

Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

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Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top-quality content. This is another site, however, that mixes free and paid content.

5. Lifehack Fast Track Class

Lifehack believes in skills that multiply your time, energy, and overall quality of life.

In this rapidly changing world, traditional education skills just don’t cut it anymore. You can’t afford to take years learning a skill you’ll never really practice. Besides offering some paid courses that will help you become a better self, it offers a list of free courses which aim to train some of the Core Life Multipliers including:

These are cross-functional skills that work across many aspects of life.

6. Academic Earth

Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

7. edX

Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics from universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley, meaning a high-quality, free online education is entirely possible here.

8. Alison

Unlike the previous sites on this list, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

It’s a great option if users need a professional certificate for their learning, as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

9. iTunesU Free Courses

A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

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Desktop users can access iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including by genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos and paid content.

iTunesU does include courses on a variety of topics, but it does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

10. Stanford Online

Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session-based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

Stanford Online is a great site for high-quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school. If you’re looking for free courses, make sure to mark the “free” option on the left-hand side.

11. Open Yale Courses

Open Yale Courses echoes Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses but learn better by watching than by reading.

12. UC Berkeley Class Central

Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but it includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts, and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

13. MIT OpenCourseWare

Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, and it includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list. However, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics, but for the topics that are covered, impressive, in-depth material is available.

15. Codecademy

Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

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The courses at Codecademy are well-written and easy to follow, and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, and it organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

16. Code

Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high-quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

In addition to kid-friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics, and Javascript.

Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

17. University of Oxford Podcasts

The University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. This is another great site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

18. BBC Podcasts

For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

19. TED-Ed

Another great destination for more general learning and free online education is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all-encompassing, motivational web series comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, but it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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20. LessonPaths

LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high-quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

21. Memrise

Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

22. National Geographic Kids

The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid-friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keep kids interested on this site.

National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

23. Fun Brain

Fun Brain is another great option for kids looking for free online education, as it focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game-based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and it is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

The Bottom Line

With so many amazing free online education resources, everyone has the ability to boost their skills and knowledge. Whether you’re interested in picking up some interesting trivia for your next party, improve your resume with some coding or business skills, or become a more well-rounded person, these resources are perfect for you.

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Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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