11 Kinesthetic Learning Strategies for Career Development
Kinesthetic learning is one of four types of learning styles defined by the VARK system, which stands for Visual, Auditory, Reading and Kinesthetic. New Zealander Neil Fleming developed the system in the early 1990s as a means of helping students and others learn more efficiently and productively as the categories classify learners according to their specific needs.
With kinesthetic learning, individuals learn most effectively through physical movement. In this article, we define kinesthetic learning, list some characteristics of kinesthetic learners and detail some strategies for retaining information as a kinesthetic learner in the workplace.
What is kinesthetic learning?
According to VARK, kinesthetic learning appeals most to people who like being active while they learn. The critical point to note in kinesthetic learning is that stimulation is crucial to the process. Kinesthetic learners engage better when their body is alert and moving. They manage input better and can process faster once their body is busy doing something besides focusing specifically on the material.
In most cases, if a child is brought up learning in a certain way, they use the same methods as they go through life. The effectiveness of kinesthetic learning strategies depends on when the individual learns them. For example, it’s much harder to relearn memorization techniques as an adult than it is to learn them as a child.
The VARK system does have several shortcomings, one of which being the dependence on placing learners into a single category. Generally, individuals may fall into more than one of the VARK categorizations. However, trying different methods in the VARK system can help you find the best approach for your unique learning style.
Characteristics of kinesthetic learners
Determining your learning style usually requires a level of self-awareness. Among the key traits of a kinesthetic learner are:
Excellent hand-eye coordination
Great motor memory
Generally good at sports and physical activity
High energy levels
Other indications you might be a kinesthetic learner are if you:
Do well in creative subjects, such as art or drama
Enjoy experimenting for the sake of knowledge
React quickly to things around you
Are excellent with tactical tasks, such as model-building
Enjoy taking things apart to see how they work
Recall the steps necessary for something you’ve previously accomplished
Enjoy escapes like adventure books or movies
Related: Guide: How to Choose a Career
Kinesthetic learning strategies
Many classrooms and work environments aren’t ideal for kinesthetic learners. As a kinesthetic learner, you likely struggle to grasp new job functions or sit still in meetings. Whether you’re finding it challenging to retain information or stay focused at work, you might be able to benefit from the following:
1. Work standing up
Standing up allows you to flex your muscles, which affects the way your body internalizes information. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, standing while working can translate to better comprehension, focus and retention.
2. Use small movements to help focus
Small movements are ideal for working without having to commit yourself to strenuous physical activity. Something as simple as bouncing a ball on the ground and catching it may provide enough of a distraction to enable your brain to retain information and focus better.
3. Build exercise into your workday
Breaking up your time into smaller units and taking short breaks for exercise between tasks may have a positive effect on your mental abilities. Kinesthetic learning requires physical activity to grasp concepts.
4. Use a highlighter and flashcards
If you’re trying to retain new information, the physical aspect of preparing a flashcard or highlighting a sentence may be enough to spur your brain into action. Kinesthetic learners tend to like moving things, and flashcards can aid in developing a moving schematic that your brain might prefer to words on a page.
5. Approach topics creatively
Drawing out a diagram on a piece of paper or a whiteboard can aid your memory and understanding. Thanks to how easy it is to create your own content with mind-mapping software, storyboarding or even a short video could help you memorize and recall concepts effortlessly.
6. Use tension and relaxation
In places where you don’t have the luxury of space, you may have to resort to more limited activities to maintain your attention. Tensing a leg muscle, for example, and holding it there for five seconds, then letting it relax is a helpful, quiet way to keep focused. In meetings and work environments especially, you might find that your attention might start drifting after a few moments of inactivity. This technique gives your body something to do in a confined space.
7. Use role-play
If you’re having trouble communicating or understanding ideas, try utilizing role-play. Acting it out may prove easier for you to process the information and get your ideas across.
8. Consider simulations
Mock-ups can be a powerful tool when learning new information. If you can, try creating or finding simulations to practice workplace tasks.
Related: What is On-the-Job Training?
9. Recall past events
If you’re having trouble remembering something, try recalling a time when you’ve either performed the task previously or have seen someone else complete it. Try to recall every aspect of the task in detail if you can: the troubleshooting, any complications, the client and all of the facts.
For kinesthetic learners, practice is perhaps the most important part of learning. Repeatedly practice the task, and allow trial and error to serve as a learning tool for yourself and others.
11. Find videos
Attempt to find videos that contain demonstrations of the tasks you’re struggling with. Seeing it done can be extremely helpful, even if it is through a screen.
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