Kinesthetic Learning: Definition and Benefits

· January 17, 2019
For some people, it's easy to remember what they read or hear. Others prefer practice for learning new skills and abilities. People in this last group are known as "kinesthetic learners."

As we grow up, we acquire new knowledge, training, and lessons in various ways. Taking advantage of techniques likes kinesthetic learning is indispensable.

Learning is the mental skill which we use to acquire skills, training, and preparation. For this to be possible, it’s important to have an appropriate guide. Having a guide makes learning much easier.

Obviously, the learner must also want to learn. If not, the effort is pointless.

Research has led to many advances in the study of learning and the development of new human abilities. In this case, we’ll be talking specifically about kinesthetic learning, which is one of the most effective and commonly-used techniques. 

What Is Kinesthetic Learning?

Kinesthetic learning is learning through the sensations and movements the body uses to do a given activity. To experience this type of learning, each person must experience the action, and internalize the movements involved.

For this reason it’s sometimes known as tactile learning, because it requires contact with the object, action, or skill that you want to learn.

Some examples are riding a bike or playing with a toy. The child learns how to use these things through practice while in contact with the objects.

How to Implement Kinesthetic Learning

For this type of learning to work, you must use your body. Your muscle memory saves any action you can do. Via memories, experiences, and unconscious stimuli, we can put this type of learning into practice.

In kinesthetic learning you must use touch, movement, smell, and taste out of the many other abilities we have. Without them it isn’t possible to learn.

The practical way to learn using this technique is to do dynamic movements in conjunction with emotions and feelings. Using fun, playful exercises considerably strengthens results for both kids and adults.
Kinesthetic Learning: Definition and Benefits

Characteristics of Kinesthetic Learners

People with this learning style tend to be very active and fidgety. For example, in school these children might walk around the room or do something else while the teacher is talking. They’re bored by theory; they prefer to touch everything and be active participants.

This type of learning tends to be much slower than visual or auditory learning. However, knowledge that comes from exploration and practice is easier to recall and lasts longer.

To understand this characteristic a little better, here’s an example: many people may be able to learn by reading or listening and watching videos. Using these techniques, they’re able to recall some information temporarily, but are likely to forget it in a few days.

However, it’s much different when we have a practice an ability, such as moving our fingers over the keyboard, without even looking. This can’t be erased from memory. It’s recorded at a deeper level which makes it harder to forget what we’ve learned. 

“Kinesthetic learning is learning through the sensations and movements the body uses to do a given activity.”

There Are Other Ways to Learn

It’s important to point out that we don’t all learn the same way. Some people may be able to use sight or hearing to capture and internalize certain things.

These differences mean it’s important for each person to know how they learn best. Then they’ll know what techniques to apply going forward.

Kinesthetic Learning: Definition and Benefits

However, this doesn’t mean you’ll never use other methods to learn, such as sight or hearing. It just means that kinesthetic learning allows you to absorb information more quickly and meaningfully. 

The questions to ask are: do I learn better by moving around and handling objects? Do I assimilate information better when I have a physical object, not a picture or a description?

If you do this little self-test and the answer is yes, your preferred learning method is likely kinesthetic. In fact, it’s the best way to learn for many people: over 55% of people learn most effectively this way.

  • Marcy, V. (2001). Adult Learning Styles: How the VARK© Learning Style Inventory Can Be Used to Improve Student Learning. The Journal of Physician Assistant Education.