Is it ADHD, or are they a kinaesthetic learner?



Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and being a kinaesthetic learner can seem similar in their behaviour and learning styles. Both conditions affect a child's ability to concentrate and focus in a traditional classroom setting. However, it is crucial to understand the differences between the two in order to provide the appropriate support and accommodations for the child.


ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a child's ability to regulate their own attention and behaviour. Children with ADHD may struggle with hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.


Alternatively, kinaesthetic learners learn best through hands-on activities and movement and will find it hard to sit still for extended periods and may appear fidgety or restless.


Unfortunately, teachers often misclassify kinaesthetic learners as having ADHD because teachers only have the opportunity to observe the child in a traditional classroom setting. It is essential to consider the child's behaviour across various scenarios when trying to differentiate between a kinaesthetic learner and a child with ADHD.


Children with ADHD may exhibit symptoms across different environments, whereas kinaesthetic learners may only have difficulties in traditional classroom settings. Struggling with executive functioning skills such as planning and organization is common in children with ADHD, whereas kinaesthetic learners may excel in these areas.


To accommodate a child who is a kinaesthetic learner, teachers can incorporate more hands-on activities and movement into the classroom. For example, allowing the child to stand or move around during a lesson, providing manipulatives or sensory tools, and incorporating physical activities into lessons can all be helpful. Frequent breaks can also help a kinaesthetic learner stay engaged and focused.


A child with ADHD has a medical condition that may require medication and behavioural therapy. On the other hand, various classroom activities and teaching methods can accommodate kinaesthetic learners. While having ADHD and being a kinaesthetic learner share several similarities in behaviour and learning styles, understanding the differences can help parents properly advocate for their children and set them up for success.

Key Differences Between a Child with ADHD and a Kinaesthetic Learner:



  • Attention span: A child with ADHD may struggle with maintaining focus, while a kinaesthetic learner may have a longer attention span when engaged in hands-on activities.


  • Hyperactivity: Children with ADHD may display hyperactive behaviour that is not necessarily related to a specific activity or environment, while kinaesthetic learners may only display hyperactive behaviour in traditional classroom settings where movement is restricted.


  • Impulsivity: Children with ADHD may have difficulty controlling their impulses, while kinaesthetic learners may be able to control their impulses when engaged in physical activities.


  • Classroom behaviour: Children with ADHD may struggle with focusing and following classroom rules, while kinaesthetic learners may be more focused and disciplined when participating in activities that involve movement.


  • Organization: Children with ADHD may struggle with organization and time management, while kinaesthetic learners may benefit from hands-on activities that involve organizing objects.


  • Attention to detail: Children with ADHD may struggle with paying attention to details, while kinaesthetic learners may be able to focus on details when presented in a hands-on manner.


  • Communication skills: Children with ADHD may struggle with verbal communication due to impulsivity and distractibility, while kinaesthetic learners may benefit from hands-on communication activities such as a game of charades.


  • Memory: Children with ADHD may struggle with short-term memory, while physical movement may aid in memory retention for a kinaesthetic learner.


  • Treatment: ADHD is a medical condition that may require medication and behavioural therapy while being a kinesthetic learner is a learning style that can be accommodated through classroom activities and teaching methods.