Kinesthetic Learning Styles and Time Management for Students

by Julie Baird on February 8, 2010

As I said last week, I am no fan of one size fits all when it comes to managing your time.  Last week I looked at Visual Learners and how they might tailor their approaches for success. This week I want to focus on kinesthetic learners

Kinesthetic learners are very practical. They need to be able to see the practical application of what they are doing. Physical activity helps to key things into their brains. When my son was younger we used to get him to write spelling words in trays of flour. Now labs and experiments are his forte.

The key with students who have a preference for this type of learning is to make everything dynamic and interactive, but to make sure the focus is on what works and will be used. If the kinesthetic student does not see the practical application, or the value to them, it simply will not get used.

How Kinesthetic Learners Can Keep Track of Work

As I said earlier Kinesthetic learners love practical applications and physical interaction. They don’t care about how pretty the cover is, it has to be useable. They won’t take anything on trust they need to see the benefit before implementing otherwise they will not do it well, they won’t look at it again later because they won’t see the point.

Some of the recommendations for visual learners may still apply, although they will appeal less for their visual appeal than for their practical sense.

So how else can we build these preferences into a way for them to keep track of all the things they need to do?

Here are a few ideas to try:

  1. Let the student decide if they find paper or digital more appealing – both can allow a good degree of interaction so it really is a matter of what they think they will use regularly. Get them to consider portability, easy access, ease of updating, and pleasure of use.
  2. Design a subsection for each subject, area of their life, whatever. Make this easy to identify (color is good for paper and some digital options allow this too).
  3. Capture everything that needs done in that section. The information needs to include what needs done as well as due dates. Make sure that it can be updated as the item is progressed. One look at the page or section should let you see what needs done and when it is complete.
  4. Physical systems can make use of post its etc to allow for reorganizing in a very interactive way. Pulling out completed items and either refilling under complete or throwing them away. Just make sure you get the good quality sticky variety and use a planner that has a zipper or elastic binding. This can be helpful if the school insists on their planner being used.
  5. Wall boards work well if the majority of the work is done in one place. Items can be transferred from an action list and written or stuck on the board as they are generated and completed. This gives a good degree of interaction coupled with top of mind awareness.

Whatever method is finally chosen it has to resonate with their kinesthetic preference.

Do you have some good examples of what works for you as a kinesthetic learner?

If you want to learn more about how to free up time and get more done with less stress then drop me an e mail and we can set up time to see if there is anything I can do to help.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Thekla Richter February 9, 2010 at 11:47 am

Great article! I’d add that many kinesthetic learners are also very holistic learners; in addition to needing a practical purpose, they need to understand on a gut level how detailed information fits into the larger concepts/bigger picture in order to remember it. Thus, mindmaps can be great for some kinesthetic learners as well as for visual ones, and I believe too that this is part of the reason why kinesthetic learners can sometimes be so oriented on practicality and goals – it’s the larger concept that ties together the details for them.

One idea that combines some aspects of your wallboard and post-it note concepts is to use index cards. These can be pinned on a wall board while being used at home, and zipped easily into a planner pouch for portability on the go. I love both post-it notes and index cards because they allow you physically manipulate the idea and to see how different ideas relate to one another as a whole.

I have also seen some kinesthetic learners who find that the physical act of writing things down really helps them remember. If they have a paper-based planner, they might do something like write out a fresh clean copy of their to-do list each week. Setting aside some time each day to rewrite the highlights of their lecture notes so that they are formatted by concept can also help them remember information, because it combines writing with reconceptualizing the information into a new, larger framework that helps them tie the pieces together.

Once again, I love this post! It’s so important to learn what works best for each individual because we are all so very different in how we perceive and interact with the world.

juliebaird February 9, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Thanks Thekla, I loved the index card tip for the wallboard, I am definitely going to incorporate that. Another good point you make is about the holistic nature of kinesthetic learners. I think most people leap to the physical, active preference and forget about this one. I see it often that when there is a disconnect between big picture and detail this type of student is really turned off.
Thnaks for all your great comments

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