How to Identify a Kinesthetic Learner in Teens

By Susan Revermann
Kinesthetic learners work best when they get to use their hands.
Kinesthetic learners work best when they get to use their hands.

Learning comes in three basic styles: kinesthetic, auditory and visual. If you’re wondering whether your teen is part of the kinesthetic learning group, check for some observable behaviors. Once you establish his tactile tendencies, you can promote this learning style instead of expecting him to retain information in a manner that doesn’t work for him.

Ask your child whether he wants a demonstration on how to complete a new task. If he declines, but chooses to jump in and try it himself, he might be a kinesthetic learner. If he does agree to some assistance, show him while you explain it, rather than just tell him. Kinesthetic learners will pick up the procedure by going through the motions, not by simply listening to an explanation.

Observe your teen to see how he uses his hands to touch, feel and handle objects. Kinesthetic learners emphasize the use of their hands and bodies to learn about various items. He might turn it over several times, squeeze, play with or take apart new objects to understand them better.

Watch your teen while he studies. Is he constantly moving such as drumming his pencil on the table while he reads or tapping his foot on the chair while he does his homework? According to, this physical activity, especially repetitive motions, can help a kinesthetic learner retain information. Try quizzing him on his history lesson while tossing a ball back and forth or during a walk. The downside to this constant physical activity and inability to sit still is that those learners often get misdiagnosed as having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder instead of being recognized as an active kinesthetic learner.

Observe your teenager closely as he engages in conversation. A kinesthetic learner often moves his hands while he speaks. He might also use touch, hugs or hitting to express his feelings.

Take note of your teen’s natural abilities and inclinations toward sports and performing arts. This type of learner is frequently drawn to these types of physical activities and is often good at them.


Many people are a mix of all three learning styles. Even if he is mainly a kinesthetic learner, he might still be able to incorporate visual or auditory learning styles, too.