Tactile learning style

In this series, we are exploring different learning styles. The third way the brain can process information is through physically acting out the information.

Traits of tactile/kinaesthetic learners

Tactile/kinaesthetic learners process information best when they experience the world themselves. For example, when learning how to tie shoelaces, they will learn by trial and error, using practical ways and working it out with their own hands. They enjoy being busy and using real tools and materials to imitate their teachers and learn skills. They learn best by moving. They are often considered hyperactive because they get bored and fidgety easily. They show excitement and interest by moving around. They enjoy exploring, and find it easier to understand abstract topics if they are explained in practical examples. They often talk fast and use their hands, using touch, space and movement to learn.

Tactile/kinaesthetic learners often work in such as sports, performance and physiotherapy.

Learning strengths of tactile/kinaesthetic learners

Recognising if you are a tactile/kinaesthetic learner is a great starting point. If you recognise these traits in your children, or the children you are working with, you can help them to learn these strategies too.

Tactile/kinaesthetic learners are great at:

  • remembering how to do something after doing it once themselves
  • navigating
  • creative activities
  • understanding the environment
  • understanding how things work.

Learning strategies of tactile/kinaesthetic learners

If you are a tactile/kinaesthetic learner, make sure you are active and use your body and sense of touch. Study works best if you:

  • work with quiet music in the background
  • take regular short breaks
  • close your eyes and trace words or images with your finger
  • make games, puzzles out of what you are learning
  • do roleplays, performances or demonstrations of the information
  • read notes while pacing
  • teach others what you are learning
  • write notes and draw
  • get comfortable – some  tactile learners like to lie on their back while listening or reading
  • fidget or eat snacks if you need to – some tactile learners tap pens in rhythm on the desk
  • work in groups
  • think of real-life examples of the information you are learning.

Teaching strategies

When teaching tactile learners, it’s helpful to:

  • allow students to stand or move while learning
  • allow frequent short breaks
  • teach with real life objects
  • dress in costume
  • encourage arts and crafts
  • teach using science experiments
  • be animated in your teaching for example sing dance and be loud – use lots of energy
  • encourage trial and error
  • organise excursions and lessons outside.

You can find out more about tactile/kinaesthetic learning at the following websites:

  1. What is my learning style?
  2. ILSA Learning Style
  3. Busy teacher.org – how to teach tactile kinaesthetic learners
  4. Studying Style.com -tactile kinaesthetic learners