Kinesthetic learning (touch) is important to learning and memory. Many teachers use kinesthetic learning to help students who have trouble listening or watching lessons. However, kinesthetic learning is important for everyone.
Kinesthetic—tactile stimulation—reveals information about temperature, vibration, shape, size, texture, rhythm, and even creates neural pathways that attach emotional feelings.
First, an understanding of kinesthetic learning must be acquired. Kinesthetic refers to tactile (sense of touch) or movement. In learning and memory, any kind of physical stimulation (even if imagined) will stimulate both hemispheres of the brain. When both hemispheres of the brain are simultaneously stimulated, then any learning experience is more likely to be retained in long-term memory. “To feel” can refer to touch or emotions because both are so closely related in our human experience—and therefore stimulate more parts of the brain.
Dual-hemispheric stimulation will also encourage a more refined understanding of any concept. Neural pathways in the brain are more likely to be created through kinesthetic and multi-sensory styles of learning.
For example, the concept of something being "hot" can be explained to the baby in an auditory or visual manner. However, until that child touches something "hot," the concept is not truly understood. How many times did you have to be told that a stove or a flame was hot--after you burned your finger?
Vocalization: Using vocal cords will stimulate a person kinesthetically. Since any kind of movement can be considered kinesthetic—even asking students to repeat back a concept will help memory. While studying for a test at home, stand for a moment and repeat back a concept while standing. Use feeling and voice fluctuations as you say it or read it aloud. Sing a concept out loud as you study. Make up a quick poem or cheer regarding a concept, then stand and recite it with emotion. (In the classroom, I would create a poem or short cheer about a scientific concept or idea the students were learning—then have them stand, shout, jump, move hands and arms as they recited. No one had a chance to get bored or fall asleep).
Example of homeostasis cheer below: Have students stand and clap in time—then jump up at the end, even in high school. Might take a moment to calm them back down—but they won’t forget about homeostasis and no one can sleep through your class. (Do the same thing when studying alone. Being creative by writing a poem and moving and shouting while studying will increase hemispheric activity and memory retention—although it might get you thrown out of a library!)
When heat and cold give our bodies fright,
It always makes things right, right, right!
Works in our cells and in our skin,
And helps our bodies win, win, win!
It keeps us in a balanced state,
Homeostasis is great, great, great!!!
Movement: Walk to different rooms as you study various concepts, chapters, or segments of information that you need to know for a test. For example, if studying world history, place ancient Egypt in your office. Walk into your office and in various areas and furniture, place the different events, places, and times, Pharaoh’s names, etc. Touch your desk while visualizing, feeling, experiencing the battle, event, place, etc., then move to another part of the room for another event, concept, etc. Now, move to a different room for another period in history. (I still remember the vicious battle in Mesopotamia that took place in my kitchen sink so many years ago—while getting my college degree).
Feel the cold of the mountains, the heat of the desert, the wind on the prairie, the fear in the hearts of the soldiers as they prepare for battle. Act out events as if you were there and a part of what was happening. Move around with your book and notes and get into the moment. Trace dates or information with your finger on pieces of furniture. Studying kinesthetically is fun and can take a lot of energy—so it’s healthy for the body as well as the mind.
Kinesthetic Keys Using Hands: Use parts of your hand as memory keys. For example, when preparing for a speech, draw around your hand, or hands, on a piece of paper. On the paper hand(s), write down a concept on each finger, and draw a simple picture that reminds you of the concept on the tip of each finger. Also use the middle of the hand, if necessary. Then, as you study for the speech, pinch each finger as a reminder of what was on the paper. Point into the middle of your hand for the concept written in the middle of the paper hand.
I have had students, who were having a hard time with speeches, be quite successful with this technique. It also helps with state fright because touching the hands while recalling information can be somewhat calming.
Kinesthetic Keys Using Entire Body: Use parts of your body for memory keys. For example, when studying anatomy, pat or pinch an area of your body as you study about it. Grab the upper part of your arm, feel the bone inside, and laugh out loud. This will help you to forever remember the bone of your upper arm, the “humerus.” (Kind of humorous, isn’t it?). As I write this article, I pat my knee and remember the “patella,” the round bone at the top of the knee. Many years ago, I patted my knee and visualized my sister, Pat, sitting on my knee—and I’ve never forgotten the “patella.”
Use your imagination and create wild things on different parts of your body to remember other kinds of concepts or information. Be creative. By using your imagination, voice, and sense of touch and/or movement at the same time, new neural pathways may be formed to help with memory retention—as well as increase intelligence.
Learning kinesthetically is fun and creative—great for the memory and the body.
Zebe is a speaker, artist, and teacher; Texas certified in art, psychology, ESL, special education, health, and social studies. She is also a certified hypnotist. When speaking, she often states her belief that, "Death does not make life a tragedy; ignorance does! Life is an adventure to be experienced regardless of circumstances."
Zebe's art, writing, speaking, and research add to the world and to the creative thought that flows through everything. She teaches creative thinking and fat loss workshops, and is also known as Hypnoartist.