Understanding the Kinesthetic Learner

The theme of the month is the challenges of the kinesthetic learner. I want to share because there are a lot of misconceptions about it that can be painful.

What is a Kinesthetic Learner?

There are 4 different styles of learning: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and auditory-digital. Visual learners experiences the world in pictures. They tend to speak in “seeing” words like “I see what you mean” or “Can I show you something?” Auditory learners experience the world in sounds. They can be really chatty, like music in the background, and can forget what they don’t hear. Kinesthetic learners are feeling people. This refers to what can be touched and also felt, like emotions. They are slower to process events and speak in feeling words like “I’m having a hard time grasping that” or “Let me get a feel for what you’re talking about.” The auditory digital learner processes data and turns it into language without really embodying it. They seek to understand and convey that understanding to others. These people appear logical or heady and can prefer to process internally, although they may use others as a sounding board to figure out what they mean or want. Reading and writing makes learning easy for these people.

Am I am Kinesthetic Learner?

Here are some tell tale signs:

  • Kinesthetic learners need to move. They wiggle, tap, swing their legs, bounce, and often just can’t seem to sit still. This can be confused with anxiety or ADD. They learn through their bodies and their sense of touch.
  • They have excellent “physical” memory – they learn quickly and permanently what they DO as they are learning.
  • Kinesthetic learners are often gifted in athletics, dancing, and other physical activities.
  • They are generally very coordinated and have an excellent sense of their body in space and of body timing. They have great hand-eye coordination and quick reactions.
  • They learn through touch. If they can put their hands on something, it clicks easier and faster.
  • Language can sometimes not come easily. Since they are slow to process, new ideas or things that are mainly felt are not easy to express in language that others can comprehend.
  • They can lose interest quickly and may appear ADD or ADHD.
  • Kinesthetic people have this need to touch things. Like everything!

Now let’s look at some of the challenges.

Kinesthetic Learners are NOT Dumb

A lot of kinesthetic learners either feel dumb or are treated as if they are dumb. A lot of kinesthetic learners had teachers who didn’t know how to teach to their learning style. The classical school subjects don’t involve moving or using the hands, like art, dance, theater or recess, so they may not have had a great experience in school. They may under achieve if they don’t realize that it’s not the problem of the learner, but the teacher.

Kinesthetic Learners are Often Misunderstood

It can be hard to put sensory experiences into words. Since kinesthetic learners live through their senses, this can mean that they either don’t speak or speak too much and ramble. This can lead to self consciousness, judgment, embarrassment, and shut down. Others can find kinesthetic learners awkward, stupid, or frustrating. This can make it hard to connect. However, when connection happens, it may feel more intimate than with other types of learners.

Kinesthetic Learners May Be Heady

Some kinesthetic learners feels ADD because they cope with not being understood and feeling dumb by going to their head space. They may have done this so long that it feels like their natural way of operating. They grasp for data to keep them steady and feeling adequate. However, when they move into their body and lead with their heart, they begin to flow. Once they learn how to empty their heads (this is very contrary to what we are taught to do!), they function much better.

Everyone is not the same. Being “average” or like everyone else may help you to do well on tests and fit in, but if it’s not who you are, you do yourself a disservice by trying to fit that round peg in a square hole. It’s just never really going to fit. So, if you’re kinesthetic, be kinesthetic. You don’t have to apologize for it. There is nothing wrong with you. Just live your sensuous life. Those who care will accept you as you are and you will give yourself space to thrive.

Not sure what your learning style is? Try the free test!

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