Tactile learners have the world at their fingertips, and that’s just the way they like it. They poke and prod, maneuver, knead and generally interact with whatever they are learning in the most physical way possible. Think about it, they have been doing it all their lives. As infants, they learned their first lessons about the concepts of love and caring through touch. Then their developing motor skills brought objects into their clumsy fingers so that they could learn about them through touch and taste and smell. Tiny feet wiggled to make bells jingle and they began learning about cause and effect. As they grew, they immersed themselves into the world with their whole bodies and often came out covered in mud and scratches. Don’t think that all of that movement is only about excess energy. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Kids wiggle and squirm their way to a better understanding of their environment and the skills they will need to get through life. Those with a heavy tactile lean to their learning needs often have the hardest time in a traditional learning environment. Sitting still can actually zone them out to the point where none of the new information makes it into their processing centers. This is why I am a big advocate of keeping your homeschooling environment as movement friendly as possible.
When my youngest - who is a very tactile learner - was small, I learned that making him sit still to do his lessons was counterproductive. If we did math while he hung upside down on the couch, he got the concept right away. If he was sitting with his feet on the floor and his pencil in his hand, we were doomed. He tells me that now he typically does math by visualizing the problem in his minds eye and using his pencil as a magic wand to break it into smaller parts, manipulate the numbers to their proper places, and work his way to the solution. In his opinion, writing the problem on paper turns it into a visual issue that is harder to work. I will be the first to admit that if I were to try math his way, my brain would simply shut down. It works for him though, and that’s all that matters.
This week, why not let your fingers do the walking toward some new learning experiences? Try these on for size:
1) K’nex are our favorite building toy. Basically they are a set of clips and rods that interlock in a variety of ways to give you huge options for building. My youngest went through a multi-month stage of building and perfecting a variety of rubber band guns with these little marvels. He explored critical thinking skills, research and development tactics, angles, levers, and all sorts of other skills and subjects all before his 10th birthday.
2) Identify and add coins while blindfolded to see how good you can get! Each coin has a different size and texture. Can you sort them into separate piles of the same coin? What about adding them just by how they feel? This will even come in handy at the store since you’ll be able to identify the correct change while it’s still in your pocket!
3) Build a house of cards! If you really want to do some heavy exploring into science and math, this is a fun way to start. You get to experience angles, shapes, structure and weight limits, air flow and its effects, seismic activity and much more. PLUS, you get an exceptionally good lesson in patience!
Being a homeschooling parent for 13 years and an independent author/illustrator makes a person learn quite a bit about a lot of things. Now it's time to pass it on!