16 Characteristics of Kinesthetic and Tactile Learners
Insights, tips, and techniques to help active, hands-on learners at school and at home
What is it like to be a kinesthetic and tactile child in school?
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. Without regard to the different ways in which children take in and process new information, we treat all learners the same way. 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) - 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. Is this 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.
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.
3. Kinesthetic learners are often gifted in physical activities such as running, swimming, dancing, and other sports.
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.
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 Cards 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 math manipulatives.
What can you do to help kinesthetic and tactile learners thrive?
9. Kinesthetic and tactile learners have trouble sitting still.
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: These types of learners are also visual learners - they need to be very clear on the outcome before making sense of the steps. Be prepared for and embrace 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.13. Kinesthetic and tactile learners can be overwhelmed.
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: Visual 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.
Check out our resources for kinesthetic & tactile learners!
Leave a comment. What are your child's learning strengths?