Through touch and tactile learning we’re 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.
Although tactile based learning in the educational space has somewhat been limited in the past to “special programs” and the “occasional offsite event” recently more and more education managers have realised the importance of hands-on learning and how it can help better develop the mental, social, and emotional growth of our children.
Is Tactile Learning Important?
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.
Though research we’re now learning more and more about the importance and connection of touch with learning.
Educators are finding that touch can help children that need the stimulation that only comes through physical contact, helping them with a number of common hurdles in learning, including:
- Loss of attention
- And fidgeting
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 unfocused and potentially disruptive in the classroom. It’s an important part of allowing children to understand better and work through problems in a more efficient way.
How To Spot A Tactile Learner
All of us learn through our sense of touch on a daily basis, however 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 better express themselves through objects and projects (like games, building blocks, science labs and art materials)
Not all children may specifically be ‘tactile learners’. However, 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 Engage & Support Your Tactile Learner
There are a lot of things both parents and educators can do to support a child’s tactile learning.
In The Home:
Tactile learners can be well known for having a hard time sitting still for a long period.
If your child seems a bit antsy while reading or doing homework, encourage them to pace the floor while reading, swing their legs, or take a break with a game.
You may find splitting homework into shorter work spans might also help your child stay focused on their 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 a 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 it” rather than “listening”. Using flashcards, building blocks and visual signals can be useful ways to support their learning.
It’s also a good idea to build a comfortable and separated environment for your child to do their work in the home, e.g. a study nook is ideal. The goal is mainly to limit your child’s ability to view an entire room so that they stay focused, on task and don’t get distracted.
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 a colour changing stress ball or even a weighted lap blanket can help keep them at ease, and their attention focused.
When your child has to listen during a lesson in school, encourage them to draw diagrams or sketches of what they are hearing. This will help reinforce the lesson, what they are hearing and allow them to understand the lesson in a way which makes the most sense to them.
Teach your child how to relax in the classroom, for example learning deep breathing techniques may help them focus and stay on task.
Immersive learning experiences like hands-on learning are now being talked about, encouraged and seen more in classrooms across Australia. Students are able to understand their learning materials 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 sensory tools you can find at CoolThings Australia, your child will enjoy a fuller and more engaging learning experience.
About the Author:
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