16 Characteristics of Kinesthetic and Tactile Learners


Sarah Major

Sarah Major, M.Ed. is passionate about working in harmony with a child's immaculate design to support their learning strengths.  As a Title 1 Program Director and Designer, Sarah earned awards for creating her own multisensory educational resources that have now been sold in all 50 states and over 150 countries.  By design, Sarah's materials incorporate stimulating visuals with related body movements, providing a solid foundation for all students, including kinesthetic and tactile learners.

Insights, tips, and techniques to help kinesthetic learners at school and at home

Adults have the luxury of understanding and accommodating how they take in new information and what helps them remember. Children don’t have the same benefit. We treat all learners the same way, without regard to the different ways in which they take in and process new information. We put them in colorful rooms full of visual stimuli, packed with their friends. We ask them to be quiet, stop moving, and concentrate. Pay attention. Listen.

When you consider a child’s learning style, kinesthetic learners (who require movement to learn) or tactile learners (who require hands-on learning), traditional classroom environments can be the biggest obstacle to learning. Very often, the children who can’t succeed in these classrooms are labelled ADD or ADHD. Could this be the case with your child?

Reality is that children, like their adult counterparts, are not all the same in how they learn. The more we understand our students’ learning strengths, the sooner we will be able to accommodate those needs and the more our students will soar. Here are some tips that will help.

SnapWords® have helped thousands of kinesthetic readers thrive!

SnapWords are sight words for visual and kinesthetic learners

Kinesthetic and tactile learners have similar learning styles

1. Kinesthetic learners need to move. 

They wiggle, tap, swing their legs, bounce, and often just can’t seem to sit still. They learn through their bodies and their sense of touch.

2. Kinesthetic learners have excellent “physical” memory.

They learn quickly and permanently what they do as they are learning. SnapWords® are sight words that are taught using body motions.

3. Kinesthetic learners are often gifted in physical activities

Activities like running, swimming, dancing, and other sports are easy for them.

4. Kinesthetic learners are typically 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.

5. Tactile learners learn through fine motor movements rather than whole body movement.

They are more moderate than kinesthetic learners who require whole body movement. 

6. Tactile learners learn primarily through the sense of touch.

The most tedious of subjects (spelling and phonics) can become an enjoyable, visual, and tactile activity when you use resources designed especially for tactile and kinesthetic learners. Experience the difference!

7. Tactile learners learn best through hands-on activities.

Incorporating related motions into teaching is one way to strengthen tactile learners. Explore our Alphabet Teaching Products to see how hand gestures can play out in learning letters.

8. Tactile learners express their learning best with projects.

They learn better when creating mini-books, games, skits, models, building blocks, art materials, and hands-on math.

 

 

Is your child a kinesthetic learner?

Find out by using our kinesthetic checklist!

Find products especially designed for your tactile and kinesthetic learners

9. Kinesthetic and tactile learners have trouble sitting still.

At school: Let them move! If you tell them they can stand up, swing their legs, or even pace the floor as long as they are not disrupting the other students, their performance will improve. Integrate movement and learning by playing Pop-Up.

At home: Practice movement at home. Some children learn new material better if they are able to pace the floor while reading. They may need to swing their legs while reading with you. Try this hopscotch activity to incorporate movement! 

10. Kinesthetic and tactile learners lose interest quickly.

At school: Use novelty and change where you teach a lesson in order to help break up long periods of time when the students would be sitting in their desks. Consider changing location, letting children sit on the floor, encouraging them to synthesize their learning by sketching what they learned. Keep intensive teaching moments short.

At home: If your child is working on homework, break homework time into short spans with a break in between. For example, do math homework, then take a break to run around the yard, do somersaults on the floor, or do a physical activity of the child's choosing. Then do more homework.

11. Kinesthetic and tactile learners have difficulty learning steps and procedures.

At school: Teach students to visualize what they are learning. If you are teaching them steps for solving a problem, have them go inside their imaginations to "see" themselves following the steps. TIP: Kinesthetic learners are also visual learners. They need to be very clear on the outcome before making sense of the steps. Be accepting if the child comes up with different steps that work better for them. After all, the desired outcome is what matters and kinesthetic/tactile learners excel once they are clear on what is expected of them.

At home: Share with your child the goal or what the desired final "product" is. Next, share the suggested steps and have the child imagine doing them. Ask your child if they believe the steps will produce the desired outcome. Listen and adjust as needed if the outcome will be the same. Try this activity to encourage your child to practice steps and procedures. 

12. Kinesthetic and tactile learners are easily distracted by their environment. Their attention follows their hands.

At school: Teach them to draw sketches or diagrams of what they are hearing in a lesson. Teach them to point to each problem. Encourage the child to find a spot with minimal distraction. Encourage them to use flashcards with information they are learning. TIP: use flashcards with strong visual cues. Remember, kinesthetic and tactile children are also visual learners.

At home: Create a cozy, private environment for your child to use as they do schoolwork. A strategy that works very well is creating a "study spot" that uses a screen to limit what the child can see in a room. TIP: make a screen from a large cardboard box with one side and the bottom cut out.

Movement based math resources for kinesthetic and tactile learners

13. Kinesthetic and tactile learners can be overwhelmed.

At school: Teach them to use deep breathing and relaxation techniques to help with focus. Break up their tasks into manageable segments.

At home: Take a break from schoolwork or the activity. Decide together the amount of time for rest and relaxation and let the child set the timer. Help them learn to organize their homework into individual tasks, put them in order of priority, and focus on just one at a time.

14. Kinesthetic and tactile learners tend not to be auditory learners.

Information they learn by body movements will be stored in their brains, help them focus, and remember what they learned.
At school: Incorporate movements and visuals into the lesson. For example, when teaching a sight word like "help" also show the body movement that will both mimic the shape and meaning of the word. TIP: visuals  are powerful aids for these types of learners because anything that is embedded in a visual can be captured and stored in a memory in less than a second.
At home: Your child's memory is not related to how many times you've told them to do something, despite how much we might wish this is true. They learn by doing. Help them store words or facts by creating fun, repetitive movements or visual signals such as whiteboards with lists and images.

15. Kinesthetic and tactile learners need manipulatives.

At school: They will focus more easily with objects to manipulate instead of always paper and pencil. Get creative with learning tools. For example, use sight word cards to build sentences. When they are solving math problems, encourage them to draw the problem or build the problem using manipulatives.

At home: Use building blocks to help them visualize math problems. Practice sight words with a game rather than pencil and paper.

16. Kinesthetic and tactile learners' attention tends to wander.

At school: Keep their attention by combining visuals and related movement into your lessons. Switch up where you teach and how you deliver the content. TIP: Try using images and body movement. You may be surprised how much it changes the focus and learning results of kinesthetic and tactile students.

At home: Homework can be difficult to do in a busy or quiet home. Try to switch up where homework is done. Share with your child that they have a powerful learning gift and that visuals make learning instant and body movement is a tool for remembering. A child can be their own best helper once they understand their "problems" aren't evidence of a disability but rather evidence of an unique gift.

 

Since its inception in 2006, Child1st has emerged as the leader in providing resources that parents and teachers alike can pick up and use. By their very design, Child1st resources meet the needs of children without the teacher-adult having to receive special training.  We exist so that every child has the opportunity to learn in their own learning language.  Child1st

 

 


14 comments


  • Deborah Cranston

    I used to run workshops for primary schools as a 3D story teller. The method I devised was based on the way I believed memorising was best achieved by the majority of young children.
    I had the children sit in a large circle on the floor with me the storyteller in the middle, along with several tins of coloured felt tips. The children were all given paper and invited to draw whatever came into their heads while I was telling the story. For some, to make a picture they could be pleased with was the most important goal but for many, the idea as I explained it to them, that they could draw just colour or shape depending on what the story said to them, worked well. The next part of the workshop was for the children to recall different elements in the story. For some it was a moment experienced by a character but for others it was a `dark forest` or a `big storm`. or a `grand ball`. Many of the children had excellent recall of the story and detail within it. I believed the physical activity of drawing strengthened their retentive memories.

    I did not know about kinaesthetic learning at the time but I`m delighted to know that I was `on the ball.`

    Though as a child my reports always said I should try harder, Dyslexia, which I now realise I suffer from, was unknow in the `50`s.


  • Angela

    As far as movement goes, it does helpe learn, think and be more aware. In my personal experience, what I have noticed that really helps me make leaps and bounds in processing is walking a new ‘path’ with unusual obstacles. This may relate to traveling as well. Probably like most people, usually when I go for walks, I go to the same places. But one time my car was in the shop and was required to walk an unusual path/route with a lot of unusual obstacles. It was in a strange, hidden location, was unusually winding, had over grown bushes making the sidewalk difficult to walk and and finally I saw mice! It was also located in this incredibly unusual area. It seems like the metaphor of walking or treading a ‘new path’ had the affect of me ‘treading new paths’ mentally and psychologicaly as well. I walk all the time in the same places and walking the same route just doesn’t have this affect on me.

    Though it might seem hard and perhaps unethical to replicate walking a new, unusual path with new and unusual/unlikely objects works wonders on me. My path was urban/city/ industrial, not out in nature where I usually walk. Nature walks might help some. It is relaxing, reviving and calming where as my urban path was something entirely different.


  • Angela

    After reading the other comments I want to add that I was very drawn to dance and movement such as gymnastics as a young child. I remember thinking the ‘Solid Gold’ dancers from the 70’s or
    80’s musical TV show and believing they were real life goddesses. And I remember being so inspired by the gold medal Olympic winner Nadia of the 1980’s and more recently Simone Biles.

    My sister studied ballet and I probably picked up a lot from watching her recitals and from being around her and her dance groove. I didn’t start studying dance or acting until I was in my early twenties. And when I did it was belly dance. I also did improv acting and traditional acting classes.

    I had wanted to teach dance but the world doesn’t always work out the way we plan.


  • Angela

    I have read that people’s learning styles are flexible and can change throughout one’s life. We have a primary learning style and a close second. For example, I believe my primary learning style is kinetic and my second strongest learning style is listening/auditory. All of our learning styles including visual learning and reading/writing are always a part of us. Though I rely on kintecism and listening for learning I also use my visual learning and reading/writing abilities as well.

    As I mentioned, your learning styles’ can change throughout your life. As I have gotten older my kineticsm has grown stronger. I’ve read that men are usually the only strong kinetics but I disagree. Im as kinetic as they come and I’m a woman.

    Only in recent years have I heard about students who are labeled as “bad” because of their learning styles. I didn’t experience any difficulty sitting still in class or for long periods of time in school or now.

    But I do have a few concentration issues. In college I did poorly in the few night classes I took. I mostly took classes during the day. Concentrating at night, most likely when I was more tired proved to be too difficult for me. Day classes were fine. I had no concentration issue with them.

    But college was a long time ago for me. And as I have not been in college and my kineticism has grown stronger, my spelling has become autrocious. I often have to spell check every paragraph I write for errors. In these days of social media and commenting, having to spell check constantly is an extreme time hinderance. My spelling is terrible. It has gotten worse as I have become older (40’s). One time I was writing a blog and was writing and publishing up to five pages a day for around a week. My spelling improved during this time, so its possible this kinetic dfficulty might be over come with a lot of practice. This spelling issue might have to do with how kinetics process things. And it might have an emotional component to it because its my spelling in English that is terrible. But I know a little Spanish and I spell perfectly in Spanish without errors. I’m always appalled to see incorrect spelling in Spanish.

    In the past I studied dance and acting, without realizing these were the best forms of learning for me.

    Now I am working in technology. I have had a lot of difficulty learning WordPress through online video classes. In person workshops and podcasts on WordPress help me more, with the in-person workshops helping the most. Learrning WordPress may be another caveat of being kinetic. I have taken other online coding classes via video and I learned the material very easily, so it seems like its just WordPress that has proven difficult for me.

    Regardless of these minor concentration issues, being kinetic is the greatest. Other learning styles are missing out. I wouldn’t trade my kineticism for the world.

    I also wanted to mention that museums are awesome for kinetics. We love objects!!! Objects are how we learn! I once went to a technology museum in Northern, CA. I learned so much.


  • maryam othman

    Thank God for this, i never knew i had a kenesthetic learner, at 2 and a half years she could destroy and fix objects, she is so smart and fast in doing so, she never sits still always told to get off things, she likes gathering objects and building them up wether bangles, containers, shoes etc. she is now four and a half, whenever i want to teach her elder sister something like sewing, before her elder sister grabs what am teaching, my kenetic daughter has already done it without me teaching her and i used to think my eldest daughter was the smart one because she is good in memorizing. i now plan to homeschool them God’s Willing cos i need to give them the attention they need.
    Thank u so much for this vital info


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