Cool Things To Help A Child's Tactile Learning
by Kerry Finch ■ August 23, 2019
The sense of touch is an essential part of our daily lives. Through touch, we are able to experience our world in a new and more complete way. We can gather more information about our environments and develop stronger bonds with one another.
Our sense of touch, or 'tactile learning' has largely been ignored in educational settings. Only recently have educators realised the importance of hands-on learning and how it can help better develop the mental, social, and emotional growth of our children.
Why Tactile Learning is Important for All Kids
Visual and audible learning has largely been the focus in educational settings for several years. Unfortunately, this has left a large part of a child’s growth stunted and underdeveloped.
Our sense of touch is our first form of learning. From as early as 16 weeks in utero, we use our sense of touch to learn more about the world around us.
We are now learning more about the importance of touch and learning. Educators are finding now that touch can help children with a number of common hurdles in learning, including:
- Loss of attention
Touching objects and engaging with the world in a physical way helps children focus their seemingly boundless amount of energy on learning instead of being disruptive and unfocused. It’s an important part of allowing children to understand better and work through problems in a more efficient way.
The Characteristics of a Tactile Learner
All of us learn through our sense of touch on a daily basis. Some key characteristics of children who particularly rely on this sense include:
- A child who uses their sense of touch (hands-on activities) to learn
- A child who learns better through the use of fine motor movements rather than using their whole body (a kinesthetic learner)
- A child who is able to best express themselves through objects and projects (like games , building blocks , science labs and art materials)
Not all children may specifically be 'tactile learning'. But providing your child with the tools to better develop all of their senses will go a long way in supporting their growth and development.
How To Best Support Tactile Learning
There are a lot of things both parents and educators can do to support a child’s tactile learning.
In The Home
Tactile learners are well known for having a hard time sitting still for a long period.
If your child seems antsy while reading or doing homework, encourage them to pace the floor while reading, swing their legs, or take a break with a game of Grip Ball!
Breaking up homework into shorter work spans will also help your child stay focused on work.
Tactile learning can also be used to help children learn steps and procedures. For instance, you can choose a modelling kit which clearly shows the end goal (such as our Smartivity Roller Coaster Marble Slide). Then you can share the suggested steps, encourage your child to envision performing those steps, and then work on the activity together.
A lot of children prefer to learn by “doing” rather than “listening”. Flashcards, building blocks and visual signals are all useful ways to support their learning.
It’s also a good idea to build a comfortable and private environment for your child to do their work in the home. The goal is mainly to limit your child’s ability to view an entire room so that they stay focused and on task.
Coming up with ways to help your child incorporate movement in their day without disrupting other students can be a challenge. Swinging their legs, playing with our colour changing stress ball or even a weighted lap blanket can help keep them at ease, and their attention focused.
When your child is learning a lesson in school, encourage them to draw diagrams or sketches of what they are hearing. This will help reinforce the lesson and allow your child to understand the lesson in a way which makes the most sense to them.
What may be most important to help teach all children is how to relax in the classroom. Teach your child deep breathing techniques to help them focus and stay on task.
Immersive learning experiences like hands-on learning are now taking precedence in classrooms across Australia. Students are able to understand learning material better, they are learning more, and they are able to better retain what they are being taught at school.
With further support from parents and caregivers at home with many of the tools you can find at Cool Things Australia, your child will enjoy a fuller and more engaging learning experience.