The Importance of Tactile Learning

Tactile Learning

Did you know that the first three years of a child’s life are the foundation for their future development? That’s why it’s crucial to stimulate their senses in the right way. Tactile learning engages your child’s sense of touch to promote healthy socialization skills and positive mental wellness. Read on to discover how this age-old teaching method can help your child thrive. 

The importance of touch 

Nothing compares to the feel of a newborn’s skin or the smoothness of a rose petal. But what you might not know is that the sense of touch is vital to our daily lives. It helps us to experience the world around us more fully, bonds us with others, and provides us with important information about our environment. 

When we touch something, we gather multiple cues about its texture, temperature, and stability. Have you ever noticed how you instinctively use your fingertips to determine if something is smooth? That’s because they are endowed with a high number of specialized cells called pacinian and Meissner corpuscles, making them incredibly sensitive to all tactile stimuli. 

In short, touch is the central interface between our bodies and the outside world. By understanding its importance, we can truly unlock the power of our senses. 

How your child experiences touch 

From the moment they’re born, a baby’s first interaction with the world is through touch. Did you know this sense starts developing in the womb at 16 weeks and never takes a break? It’s critical for a child’s physical, cognitive, and language development, as well as their social and emotional growth. In fact, tactile learning and touch play a role in both short-term and long-term development. Simply put, touch is essential for a child’s progress. 

What is tactile learning? 

Tactile learning is when your child is learning and experiencing things through their sense of touch. At the early stages of their brain development, your child learns so much just by holding an object in their hand. Adding tactile elements to your child’s learning activities is crucial in their effectiveness. 

Tactile learning is a crucial aspect of children’s development, teaching them to understand object properties and develop fine motor skills.  

Although all children benefit from tactile experiences, specific learning styles may find them particularly useful. Tactile learners love painting, clay modelling, and constructing with toys. Regardless of learning style, tactile learning is vital for every child’s development. Include it in their educational experiences today. 

How does tactile learning help? 

Implementing tactile learning into your child’s education can drastically impact their development.  

Cognitive development

As mentioned above, simply by touching things, your child is gathering data about the world around them. By feeling the skin of an apple, they can understand that the object is smooth and by comparison the skin of a kiwi fruit is rough. They can feel that rice is grainy but also that grains of sand are even finer. They can even feel the comparative temperatures of air on their skin and by doing so understand hot from cold. 

By repetitively experiencing these senses your child is collecting data that is essentially forming the neural pathways in their mind. These neural pathways are the building blocks for your child’s future learning. The stronger the connection between these pathways, the more firmly the information is stored in their mind. 

SHICHIDA at Home videos include many sensory activities that you can perform with your child at home, using everyday items. 

Check out how SHICHIDA at Home can help develop your child’s cognitive ability from the comfort of your home, all while facilitating that all-important bond between parent and child. 

Problem-solving and critical thinking

When your child is still too young to solve puzzles with their words, they will need to use their hands to solve puzzles. Even something as seemingly simple as a shape puzzle is a complex problem to solve for a child. It requires examining the shape of a piece, matching it with the shape of a hole, then using hand-eye coordination to place the piece. 

By completing these kinds of puzzles, your child is beginning to understand the concept of solving problems, which is a precursor to mathematics. 

Math and numbers

Speaking of mathematics, tactile learning can be applied when learning about numbers and mathematics. 

When your child is in the early stages of counting, they will benefit from the addition of a tactile element to your numbers practice. For example, try writing the number “1” and the number “2” in large colorful font on a piece of paper. Help your child to point to the number 1 and say, “One”. Then help your child move one of their favorite toys onto the number 1. As you are moving the toy, count “One”. 

Repeat this process with the number “2”. Point to the number and say the number. Then move two toys onto the number (making sure that your child is moving the toys one by one) and counting as you do so, “One, two.” 

By moving the toys onto the number as they count, your child is connecting things in their mind. They are making connections between the written figure “2” and the concept of two physical objects and understanding that these mean the same thing. 

Additionally, the physical act of moving the toys themselves is helping to solidify this idea in their minds and firm up that connection. 

SHICHIDA at Home videos include many number and math activities that utilize tactile learning. 

Check out how SHICHIDA at Home can help develop your child’s cognitive ability from the comfort of your home, all while facilitating that all-important bond between parent and child.

Reading and writing

Tactile learning aids in letter recognition and language development in the same way that it can assist with number recognition. It is all about building stronger connections in your child’s mind. While we may think that reading and writing is all audio visual, the added tactile element can definitely help your child remember what letters sound like. 

Your child will most likely be able to recognize what an apple is and say the word “apple” before they are able to spell it. In order to teach your child phonics for the letter “A”, why not use a physical apple to create stronger connections between the letter and the sound the letter makes? 

Try laying out the letters “A” and “B” on the floor. Next hand your child an apple and say, “Ah, ah, apple.” Help your child move the apple onto the letter “A” as you say the sound of the letter and the name of the object. If your child is able to, encourage them to mimic the sound and/or word. Repeat this process with the letter B and a banana or a blanket. 

Once again, the physical act of moving the item onto the letter is helping to solidify the association in your child’s mind. It is helping them understand and remember the link between written letter and the name of the item they are holding in their hands. 

Fine motor skills

It probably goes without saying that allowing your child to touch and hold things is helping to improve their ability to use their hands and fingers. However, you may benefit from knowing how a child’s level of dexterity in their hands progresses as they get older, as well as how you can support your child in this progression. 

Developing finger strength

When your child is a baby, helping them grip items with their fist will help build their finger and hand strength. Don’t be afraid to hold their hand as they try to pick up items for the first time. Help them practice picking things up and placing them in a container. This will help with their hand-eye coordination. 

As your baby gets more confident, have them practice picking up smaller items just using their fingers. Try placing a several small toys into the compartments of an ice cube tray. Then assist your child in taking out each toy one by one, using their fingers to remove the small toy from the small compartment. This exercise will help your child grip items with their fingers. 

Finally, help your child develop the small muscles in their fingers so that they can be confident when holding a pencil using the correct grip. This does not necessarily mean holding a pencil, but rather any fun activity that gets your child using their forefingers and thumb to hold an item. For example, something as simple as learning to fly a paper aeroplane. This activity can let your child practice opening and closing the same digits they would use on their pencil grip as they have fun letting their paper aeroplanes fly. 

Coordination

Coordination is linked to fine motor skills. The ability to move their body in order to respond to visual and audio stimuli is important in completing everyday actions. 

Shape puzzles help develop your child’s coordination as these puzzles require them to use their eyes and hands to manoeuvre the shape into place. Stacking blocks also develops this further as your child needs to be more careful when placing each block. 

Concentration

Tactile learning assists in developing concentration skills, particularly in young children. The same way adults may fiddle with something as they are concentrating on a task, children may find it easier to concentrate on a task if it involves using their hands. 

Matthew Lorber, MD, a child psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, says studies show that if your hands are busy, it can actually force your brain to work harder to stay on task. This is especially true for those with ADHD, whose prefrontal cortex may struggle with organizing information and focusing. Tactile tools can actually provide an outlet for hyperactive energy, allowing for increased concentration and productivity.  

SHICHIDA at Home videos include many activities to help develop your child’s concentration. 

Check out how SHICHIDA at Home can help develop your child’s cognitive ability from the comfort of your home, all while facilitating that all-important bond between parent and child.

How touch effects emotional development 

Research shows that a lack of touch can have devastating effects on our overall well-being. From memory problems to violence tendencies and illnesses, the impact is far-reaching. But why is something as simple as touch so important? Experts suggest that the answer may lie in the theory of attachment – when a child does not receive enough positive touch from parents, it can hinder their ability to form meaningful bonds.  

The first bond a child forms is crucial as it links them emotionally, physically, and mentally. However, if there is no bonding, the child can harbor negative emotions and distrust. Without this fundamental connection, children may grow up emotionally unstable and struggle to relate to others. Moreover, the absence of touch can lead to severe stress during childhood and even into adulthood. 

As you are teaching your child and bonding with them, be sure to include positive touch. Hug your child, high five them, help guide their little hands as they complete their activities. All of these positive examples of touch will help develop their overall love of learning. 

References 

Hart, Sara. “Tactile Learning: The Importance of Hands-on Activities for Children | South Bay Community Services.” Www.southbaycommunityservices.com, 24 June 2019, www.southbaycommunityservices.com/tactile-learning-the-importance-of-hands-on-activities-for-children/. 

https://www.facebook.com/WebMD. “Can Fidget Spinners Help You Focus?” WebMD, 14 May 2017, blogs.webmd.com/webmd-interviews/20170514/can-fidget-spinners-help-you-focus. Accessed 2 June 2023. 

Shannon, Simply. “The Benefits of Tactile Learning for Kids.” Gettin Life Dunn, 25 Oct. 2022, gettinlifedunn.com/the-benefits-of-tactile-learning-for-kids/. Accessed 2 June 2023. 

Villaneda, Alene. “WHAT IS TACTILE LEARNING? How Tactile Activities Improve Problem Solving & Language Processing – Integrated Learning Strategies.” Integrated Learning Strategies, 11 May 2016, ilslearningcorner.com/2016-05-tactile-learning-how-your-child-learns-through-touch-and-their-tactile-system/. 

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