Bodily Kinesthetic Learning Style and Characteristics

Learning Through Physical Hand and Body Movement

Children dancing together at a preschool

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The bodily kinesthetic learning style is one of eight types of learning styles defined in Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences. Bodily kinesthetic learning style or intelligence refers to a person's ability to process information physically through hand and body movement, control, and expression. It is also known as the physical learning style or tactile-kinesthetic learning style.

Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence

Bodily kinesthetic learners prefer bodily information over other forms. Movement serves as an aid to their memory and they remember movement from others as well as their own. People with bodily kinesthetic intelligence may seek out touching and manipulating objects when learning about them. They enjoy creating work with their hands, may have a lot of energy and need to move, and may be talented athletes. Kinesthetic learning styled people enjoy school activities such as drawing, modeling, sculpting, drafting, shop, athletics, dance, and hands-on sciences.

How They Learn Best

People with bodily kinesthetic learning styles learn best when they are permitted to use their tactile senses and fine and gross motor movement as part of the learning process. They often prefer direct involvement with the material they are learning rather than worksheets or reading from a book. Bodily kinesthetic learning style students understand and remember material longer when they use it in an active way.

The act of writing can also help them retain and process the information they are writing about. Writing an answer to a question before saying it out loud may be of value to them. Interacting with a computer or keyboard is also of more interest to them than reading. Projects that involve the student in creating displays and props that explain subject matter, such as shadow boxes, models, animations, or videos may be useful to them. They may like to create a game to review information.

They will enjoy taking things apart and constructing things. Acting out subjects, role-playing games, demonstrations, and experiments and lab work will be of more interest to them. Students may enjoy field trips and scavenger hunts. They often enjoy physical games, exercise, dance, drama, and sports.

Kinesthetic learners do less well when tasks are focused only on reading or listening to lecture without being able to manipulate an object or move. In such cases, a teacher might offer a sports-related example so the student can at least connect the material to physical actions.

Career Choices

The bodily kinesthetic learning style student may be drawn to careers that involve physical interaction. In health professions, these can include surgery, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, emergency medical technician, and recreation therapy. In the arts, this can include being an actor, dancer, artist (painting, sculpting), craft artist, or designer.

Physical education and sports professions include athletic coach, personal trainer, aerobics instructor, physical education teacher, and professional athlete. Trades include carpentry, woodworking, mechanic, and factory work with moving systems. Other professions include a postal carrier, firefighter, police officer, forest ranger, or the military.

3 Sources
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  1. Şener S, Çokçalışkan A. An investigation between multiple intelligences and learning stylesJ Educ Train Stud. 2018;6(2):125. doi:10.11114/jets.v6i2.2643

  2. Singh Y, Makharia A, Sharma A, Agrawal K, Varma G, Yadav T. A study on different forms of intelligence in Indian school-going childrenInd Psychiatry J. 2017;26(1):71-76. doi:10.4103/ipj.ipj_61_16

  3. Gardner H. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. 3rd edition. New York: Basic Books; 2011.

By Ann Logsdon
Ann Logsdon is a school psychologist specializing in helping parents and teachers support students with a range of educational and developmental disabilities.