People learn in various ways. Sadly, the education system primarily teaches students through auditory and visual learning. While these methods are effective for many, some kids struggle to comprehend and retain information this way.
A kinesthetic tactile approach is an excellent adjunct to visual and auditory learning for students who better understand things through touch. A kinesthetic tactile learning approach enables students to assimilate information from different learning modes, consolidating them into skills application and practice.
Learn more about kinesthetic tactile learning, how to teach kinesthetic learners and when to cater to this learning style.
What’s kinesthetic tactile Learning?
Before I get into the actual learning style, let me clarify what I mean by “kinesthetic tactile.”
Kinesthetic tactile is one of three sensory inputs commonly leveraged in learning settings. It’s the sensory input gathered from touch while performing a task or learning a skill.
The input differs from that of other sensory modalities like sight and hearing. For this reason, the knowledge gained from repeated kinesthetic tactile stimulation translates to tactile memory and physical skills.
A child feels a need for repeated exposure to situations and objects. And this is where kinesthetic tactile learning comes in.
Kinesthetic tactile learning consists of repeated exposure to tasks and objects to consolidate skill memory, otherwise known as “muscle memory.” Administered correctly, kinesthetic tactile teaching benefits learners in ways they may not experience visually or auditorily.
The Power of Muscle Memory
Most curriculums in middle and high school reinforce visual and auditory learning. Indeed, knowledge acquisition from visual and auditory methods aid in cognitive development. However, most teachers and educational administrators struggle with the issue of skill development. After all, nobody learns how to drive by listening to a 45-minute audiobook. Nor will it suffice to teach safe driving with a half-hour video on road rules.
Skill acquisition and development require more than exposure to auditory and visual learning aids. Training muscle memory to develop skills is necessary because muscle memory or skills memory is the adaptation developed in kinesthetic tactile learning. Muscle memory differs from other cognitive adaptations because it bypasses cognitive processing (the moment when a person thinks).
Unlike in auditory and visual learning, memorization through speech and repeated reading play a small role in the development of muscle memory. According to Psychology Today, the acquisition and mastery of skills result from habituation and mental rehearsal. Combining practice and reflection on a practice session leads to the development of skill and consolidation.
For example, a weightlifter who learned how to snatch in his youth will have solidified technique with thousands of repetitions and mental rehearsals. The same applies to a driver that has spent two years behind the wheel.
Developed over time, muscle memory enables a person to perform skills with spontaneity. But, most importantly, it guarantees skills retention — useful if the learner has to perform the skill on demand.
How to Develop Muscle Memory with kinesthetic tactile Learning
Kinesthetic tactile learners can benefit significantly from implementing tried-and-true methods of developing muscle memory. Therefore, we have narrowed these techniques down to these:
Muscle memory through kinesthetic tactile learning is skill-specific. For this reason, you must identify what skill you want your children or students to acquire and master and expose them to it as early as possible.
For instance, if you want your children to learn how to play an instrument, begin by introducing it. Then, after the introduction, show them how to play it and encourage them to try playing it themselves.
Their initial encounter with the instrument will form the foundation of a kinesthetic tactile experience. From here, all that is necessary is reinforcement and repetition.
It all begins with skill exposure. However, the endgame is skill mastery and retention. There must be repetition for your children or students to master the skills they wish to have.
While there’s no hard-and-fast rule to the number of repetitions necessary to master a skill, here’s a good rule of thumb:
Have your children or students repeat a skill until they display less hesitation and error. The keyword here is less. So don’t worry if the occasional error rears its head during a class or practice.
The physical practice is just as crucial as mental practice. Hence, you must encourage your children or students to drill the skill in their minds as often as they want.
Mental rehearsal forms the necessary cognitive reinforcement for any skill. Through trial, a learner matches a physical skill with its cognitive input. As a result, the learner not only masters a skill but retains it for a long time.
When to Resort to a Kinesthetic Tactile Teaching and Learning Style
Every learning or teaching method has its place within a well-rounded curriculum. As a parent or educator, it’s your job to identify when a learning or teaching method will be most resourceful.
So when is a kinesthetic tactile style useful? In my experience, and after reading about kinesthetic learning, it’s resourceful and necessary in the following instances:
When the Learner Is a Kinesthetic Tactile Learner
Not all learners will gravitate toward an auditory or visual learning style. Others will prefer a hands-on approach to learning. For this group of students, a kinesthetic tactile system will be beneficial and necessary.
There are several signs to look for to determine whether or not a learner favors this learning style. Here’s a list of kinesthetic tactile learner characteristics:
- Restless movement
- Physically gifted (think athletes).
- Develop fine motor skills early
- Responsive to hands-on activities
- Associate information with a particular movement (e.g., walking while memorizing the periodic table).
When the Goal Is To Master a Skill
A visual and auditory teaching style is fine for history, English, and math. But when you want learners to master a skill, there’s no better approach than a kinesthetic tactile approach.
As mentioned earlier, a kinesthetic tactile approach enables learners to develop muscle memory. Through habituation or repetitive practice, children perform skills with less hesitation. Over time, they master these skills, committing fewer errors even without thinking of what they’re doing.
When the Course or Class Is Skill-based
Some classes are knowledge-based. Others are skill-based. For the latter, a kinesthetic tactile approach is a must.
It’s up to educators to determine where a class falls in the skill-knowledge continuum. Every class or course will require a combination of skill and knowledge. However, right off the bat, the following subjects will require a kinesthetic tactile approach due to their physical nature:
There are ways to adapt kinesthetic tactile teaching strategies to knowledge-based subjects. I’ve mentioned some of these strategies in my post on kinesthetic learning. In a nutshell, experimentation and activities can make subjects like science more palatable for kinesthetic tactile learners.
Knowledge Isn’t Always Power. Application Is.
Auditory and visual learning have their place within a well-rounded curriculum. However, when skill acquisition and retention are the goals of learning, a more hands-on approach is necessary.
kinesthetic tactile learning enables learners to learn skills and master them. Kinesthetic tactile learning also helps children retain the skills they’ve learned. Due to the effects of this learning style, it outshines other modes of learning and teaching in skill-based classes.
The key to maximizing the effects of kinesthetic learning is repetition. So if you’re dealing with a kinesthetic tactile learner, encourage them to repeat the skills they’re trying to master.
What does tactile kinesthetic mean?
A kinesthetic tactile is a learning style in which different materials are touched or manipulated to learn and understand something. It is typically used in combination with visual and auditory study techniques.
Is kinesthetic and tactile the same?
Yes, both kinesthetic and tactile learners have the same learning attributes as they learn by using a hands-on approach to different topics.
What is an example of kinesthetic?
A common example of a kinesthetic learning style is when a kid learns how to ride a bike using his or her hands.
How does a tactile, kinesthetic learner learn best?
Movement is very important for kinesthetic learners, so they learn when moving and can touch things to easily understand them.