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Study Tips for Kinesthetic Learners

Some people are kinesthetic learners: people who need motion to learn. These people can’t exactly learn the best from just hearing something said or from seeing it—they need to do it. These are often called “tactile” learners, too, though on a practical level “touch” is really a distinct learning type. You can be one without being the other, so don’t be too attached to the technicalities.

The fact is, even in the overall “kinesthetic” learning type, different subtypes exist, and only partially because of different possible secondary learning type combos. Colors help some people; hinder others. Some people find themselves better oriented towards the doing aspect that teachers usually cater to; others find it better just to move.

1. Chew

Does your school or situation allow you to chew gum? Do you lack braces or TMJ? Then quietly chewing a bit of gum might offer the motion stimulus you need to help you learn. Just make sure you keep your mouth closed—smacking’s a sure way of making others mad at you and maybe even of losing your gum privileges.

2. Color

Make a photocopy of your notes or the map or whatever you’re studying. Now pull out some colored pencils, highlighters, or whatever you have available, and color it! Pay attention to what you’re coloring, and the act of coloring could be your best option. It’s also possible that the mere act of color-coding your notes might be enough.

3. Jitter

This can really annoy people, but sometimes silently tapping your leg or bouncing your foot can be the stimulus you need to learn or maybe even pay attention when listening to a lecture, since it’s a healthy alternative to (rudely) picking your nails. The foot-bouncing produces less movement and less distraction to those around you than leg-bouncing does, so even those who protest leg motion might be placated with this compromise.

4. Type

Type out your notes on a computer, typewriter, or calculator (though I wouldn’t advise that last one for time reasons). Pay attention as you type, and experiment with different fonts and coloring. If this works for you, regular black type will probably be fine, but some people will find colored cursive reminiscent of their own highlighted handwriting better.

5. Walk

Some folks’ personal favorite: walking. Take your notes and repeat them to yourself while walking. If you’re in a rush, walking faster or bouncing while you walk can sometimes help, though this method’s effectiveness might vary with subject. When space is limited (or you’re in a hallway awaiting a test), a few-step pace back and forth can suffice instead of a wide circling you might prefer when you have room.

6. Write

Try writing out your notes by hand. Some people find this method the cement for their memories, especially some forms of visual learners. If trying this method, you do have to pay attention to what you’re writing and can’t just run on autopilot. Experiment with pencil and pen, polychromatic (colored) and monochromatic (black and white).

7. Yo-yo

As crazy as this might sound, some people have their best results from this one: studying while yo-yoing. The motion and sound (the yo-yo has a type of buzzing sound while twirling on the string) make this method especially useful to audio-kinesthetic learners. If you try this one, you’ll probably find yourself walking while studying, as well.

Chances are, even if you are a kinesthetic learner, some of these methods will be worthless to you—especially if you, like me, can’t yo-yo. Experiment with these methods, and pay attention to what you naturally do when trying to pay attention to someone (even if you’re usually reprimanded for doing it). Perhaps your natural tendency can be adjusted into something that won’t get you into trouble; maybe, instead of picking your nails, you can bounce your foot.

As long as you remember the substitution, of course.

72 thoughts on “Study Tips for Kinesthetic Learners

  1. Omg. Thank you so much for these tips!

    I’m a kinesthetic learner myself and lately I’ve realised that cramming in one night by reading aloud just won’t do it for me when I study. I can’t ‘absorb’ as much information as I need to, and I find it hard to stay in one spot for an hour reading.. I find myself trying to take breaks every 3 minutes I study!

    I’m going to try a few of these tips, I hope they help as I have some really important exams coming up!

  2. Omg. Thank you so much for these tips!

    I’m a kinesthetic learner myself and lately I’ve realised that cramming in one night by reading aloud just won’t do it for me when I study. I can’t ‘absorb’ as much information as I need to, and I find it hard to stay in one spot for an hour reading.. I find myself trying to take breaks every 3 minutes I study!

    I’m going to try a few of these tips, I hope they help as I have some really important exams coming up!

  3. I’m a Kinesthetic Learner myself. And I find these tips very useful. Thank you very much for posting this! It’s really useful! 😀

  4. I’m a Kinesthetic Learner myself. And I find these tips very useful. Thank you very much for posting this! It’s really useful! 😀

  5. My Advanced Communication class group is doing a presentation on “kinesthetic communication” and I just found out that I´m a kinesthetic learner. I want to thank this website for helping me discover a new way to learn.

  6. My Advanced Communication class group is doing a presentation on “kinesthetic communication” and I just found out that I´m a kinesthetic learner. I want to thank this website for helping me discover a new way to learn.

  7. thanks this is alway a good thing to learn i have a big project someing up and i needed this so thx bye and every one have a good day

  8. thanks this is alway a good thing to learn i have a big project someing up and i needed this so thx bye and every one have a good day

  9. wow in ten minutes…… I just realized the kind of learner I am. My whole life I thought I was ADD but now I know I just learn differently I am very grateful for this study technique thanks a lot!!!!!

  10. wow in ten minutes…… I just realized the kind of learner I am. My whole life I thought I was ADD but now I know I just learn differently I am very grateful for this study technique thanks a lot!!!!!

  11. I though i was useless at studying untill now! i bought myself a stressball, thought it will work just like the yo-yo concept!

  12. I though i was useless at studying untill now! i bought myself a stressball, thought it will work just like the yo-yo concept!

  13. During church I would doodle, creating very artistic pictures. I was always embarrassed that I might be distracting someone else, because I would always see people look over at me. But I found that doodling was something I could do with my hands and be able to pay attention.

    I do the gum thing…but I didn’t realize that it was a coping skill.

    I know I would fidgit a lot!

    I have triplets and am homeschooling them. And I just realized that I have all 3 learning types represented (visual, auditory, and my sweet daughter the kinesthetic learner). So I am now researching each type to see how I can help them learn. I would like to see more ideas to help younger kids learn.

    I struggled through school all my life, so I would like to make it better for them.

    1. I struggled too. All through school!! I thought I was dumb. When I reached college, barely and frightened to death that it would be a waste of time and money… I was able to do the work even the math!! WOW I became a math major. It made no sense to me in elementary and I avoided it in high shool, it was just numbers on a page. In college i’d go to the library sit in a carroll and chew gum and mints, twirled my pencil, my hair, bounced my legs, and tour the library every 15 minutes.
      Now I have my little learners and the charmer is my tactile learner. We are just now embarking on how alien academic life is becoming for him…he’s in third grade…least the previous years were cut and paste, color, but now it’s sit and do and finish….complete this ditto! It works for his visual brother but not the athletic bundle, who has to move, touch, feel. Standardized testing will be torture. It was for me.My thoughts would drift to how numb my legs were becoming. And then how annoying the numbness would feel.
      I am searching, right now, for learning guidance for him, tools, manipulatives, how to turn his general education into something he can understand. I likes going to school it’s where he can socialize. But I need a plan for him to learn tactiley. HELP PLEASE !!

  14. During church I would doodle, creating very artistic pictures. I was always embarrassed that I might be distracting someone else, because I would always see people look over at me. But I found that doodling was something I could do with my hands and be able to pay attention.

    I do the gum thing…but I didn’t realize that it was a coping skill.

    I know I would fidgit a lot!

    I have triplets and am homeschooling them. And I just realized that I have all 3 learning types represented (visual, auditory, and my sweet daughter the kinesthetic learner). So I am now researching each type to see how I can help them learn. I would like to see more ideas to help younger kids learn.

    I struggled through school all my life, so I would like to make it better for them.

  15. My daughter has been having issues with her Engineering degree. she is in her 2nd year and we recognise that she is a kinesthetic learner. I have sent her a link to this site to assist as I think this is very enlightening. She’s been so busy telling herslf how stupid she is!!!

    1. Tell her to hang in there. Took me 5 years, but eventully I got through engineering school and am so glad I did. I’m also a kinesthetic learner.

  16. My daughter has been having issues with her Engineering degree. she is in her 2nd year and we recognise that she is a kinesthetic learner. I have sent her a link to this site to assist as I think this is very enlightening. She’s been so busy telling herslf how stupid she is!!!

  17. Thank you for presenting the different methods. In high school we are taught studying consist of sitting down and looking at the book. “Sit down and study” rings in my ears, but “learning” involves so much more. Just seeing the alternative methods in reaching the same goal (learn the material) is helpful. It helped me become more aware and/or actively involved in my own learning. Alot of students don’t feel “free” to try what works for them (methods) until reaching college, and often we are late achieving our academic potential. Can’t blame the education system entirely, but the internet and sites like this really helps the people to help themselves.

    I was reading Pixii’s comment (June 20th, 2008) and she commented about her need to take several breaks. Studying in short burst (15min) results in higher retention. The brain stores the beginning and end of each study burst. Just keep the breaks short.

    Learn how to learn, and the rest comes easy. B well and prosper.

  18. Thank you for presenting the different methods. In high school we are taught studying consist of sitting down and looking at the book. “Sit down and study” rings in my ears, but “learning” involves so much more. Just seeing the alternative methods in reaching the same goal (learn the material) is helpful. It helped me become more aware and/or actively involved in my own learning. Alot of students don’t feel “free” to try what works for them (methods) until reaching college, and often we are late achieving our academic potential. Can’t blame the education system entirely, but the internet and sites like this really helps the people to help themselves.

    I was reading Pixii’s comment (June 20th, 2008) and she commented about her need to take several breaks. Studying in short burst (15min) results in higher retention. The brain stores the beginning and end of each study burst. Just keep the breaks short.

    Learn how to learn, and the rest comes easy. B well and prosper.

  19. This is me!! Its taken me decades to find out teh best way to study… thank you for the tips – I bought a lava lamp to give me some mood light and gentle movement in my bedroom while i study – tva and radio are too dsitracting, but i really need something as i get so bored otehrwise… something else i like is sitting near the window to occassioally glance at the everyday activity outside – its not too loud and its boring stuff, people catching buses, cars, pedestrains, no narrative that will distract me.

  20. This is me!! Its taken me decades to find out teh best way to study… thank you for the tips – I bought a lava lamp to give me some mood light and gentle movement in my bedroom while i study – tva and radio are too dsitracting, but i really need something as i get so bored otehrwise… something else i like is sitting near the window to occassioally glance at the everyday activity outside – its not too loud and its boring stuff, people catching buses, cars, pedestrains, no narrative that will distract me.

  21. Yeh, I found that reading notes over and over was having no effect, but I read while I was on the bus occasionally glancing out the window and found that it helped a lot! I could remeber what I had been reading, and it was especially boring as it was gas laws in physics so the subject matter wasn't too appealing either.

  22. this is great thanx for the help, my future tests and exams are all saved. THE YOYO WORKS CHARMSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. I agree with the article I am a kinesthetic learner and do better at an online university than at a brick and morter one. I have to have the tv on or listen to music while studying. Eating while studying use to work until I gained 15lbs lol. I never knew my learning type until I took my 1st Educaional Psychology course at age 35.
    Tip for other students- break your studying into small segments and use note cards if you need to organize stuff, just having note cards to rearrange can help you memorize info.

  24. Thank you for presenting those tips. I feel bored very quickly when reading from my notes. I often need snacks to keep me going on especially when i'm studying for my science exam. Some of the tips that i had read might be useful to me, but not all. I hate having noises arround me when i study for my examinations especially when there are construction works around my area. I do favour holding my notes and walking around, however at the same time, reading out aloud to myself. So I guess, i'm a mixture of audiotory learner and kinesthetic learner.

  25. I wish I could read on the bus but it gives me a headache. It's too bad though because I don't drive so I have to take the bus to get around. I find reading at a park really helps me, as long as the park isn't too busy. I am going to give the yo-yo trick a shot, I have never heard of that one before.

    Cheers,
    Terry (<a href=”http://hermitcrabcarecenter.com/hermit-crab-information/
    “>hermit crab information enthusiast)

    1. hey terry try using travel calm bands, u can get them from most chemist…… they use accupressure on ur wrists to stop the nausea feeling it works for me with my 4 hr travel on the train everyday

  26. I also struggled in school of course that's been many, many years ago. My parents wasn't aware of all the different learning styles. I think it's wonderful that you have researched this information to make it easier for your children!

  27. hi my mame is meea i think this stuff is very helpful for my language arts class i am in grade 10 thank you for helping me meea

  28. my mom knows im a Kinesthetic learner but she put me in online school i get distracted and loose interest because it all on the computer. it always feels like theres a wall in between me and learning i can call my teacher and type to them but it not the same

  29. I stumbled upon this looking for ways to help my daughter study – and realized that this is how I studied in school! I am a compulsive finger picker, walk when I read and always type out my notes. Maybe she got it from me! Thanks for the info!

  30. After reading this i just realized that when i really am interested in learning something i bounce my foot or walk while reading! Now that i realized this im sure i will have better luck in studing! Thanks 🙂

  31. I am a 39 year old nursing student and find myself struggling especially with pathophysiology.  I think it is because it is so abstract and I can’t really grasp it in a tangible way. I have found help on websites before that were aimed at elementary school kids! My favorite way to study hands down, is to make copies of the diagrams that explain concepts in my books and tape a little “door” over each word or item that I want to learn and learn it entirely through seeing the picture and checking behind the “door” to see if I got it right. My best success has been learning in this way.  Unfortunately, sometimes I just get overwhelmed with all of the material and fail to even make my “door” study guide. Thanks for reminding me how it can really help my life! I know I am smart, taking tests in certain subjects is just brutal for me though. Good luck everyone who is struggling, I think as long as you keep searching for something that works for you until you find it, you WILL be successful! Don’t give up and just accept that you suck at test-taking.

  32. This is definitely my learning type and I fully realized it while changing careers. I had been a nurse for years and found school pretty easy. I didn’t know that rewriting notes by hand and/or computer made me a kinesthetic learner, but I learn best that way. While in barber and cosmetology school, I struggled terribly. The beauty industry is dominated by visual learners, even the instructors are visual learners. A lot of haircuts are explained as the instructor is doing it. That technique is nirvana to an auditory or visual learner. I found that I had to write down, step-by-step, the entire haircut or procedure before I could complete it and, most importantly, understand it.

  33. This was a very good forum…I was interested in finding out why my 14 year son has had such a tuff time with his first year of high school. He is an above average student but is really having issues this year unlike before. He plays both basketball, and football and excels in them both but has now had to sit out to failing grades. He has big plans of attending a D1 school for sports medicine (LSU), and we need to find ways to help achieve his overall plan of success. These are very good tip on how to control his study habits, and he has a lot of the traits mentioned here. Chewing gum, tapping, loud music while studying, etc.. Thank you and I keep working on this.

  34. I never thought I was a kinesthetic learner and don’t necessarily think that I am, but I do find that crocheting while attending seminars, lectures and the like helps me pay attention.

  35. Doodilling (did I spell that right) helps me…whenever there was a lecture, beside taking notes, drawing little pictures helped me concentrate.

  36. OMG, I just find out that I am also a kinesthetic learner and for me to remember something I HAVE TO WALK. i was worried i was not normal and then i type in google studying while walking and find this. Thank for for helping me, know that I know what I am it is so much easier. 😀 i will also try other methods.

  37. Pingback: Richard J Green
  38. For all of you musicians out there: kinesthetic, auditory and visual learning are very unique styles of learning. I discuss different techniques to learn in all three of these styles on my blog… PianoMastermind.com The focus of the Blog is using Sight, Sound, Energy Efficiency and Mental Mastery in learning. All information is aimed at helping make the study of music more enjoyable . Great article! Thanks! ~Suzanne

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