Tactile Learning


Tactile learners are also known as kinaesthetic learners, being a learning style where students / children learn through touch, physical activities rather than watching, listening or talking about the content.

Using touch to help the learning process is valuable to all learners to improve memory and understanding but is an essential part of a tactile learners ability to understand and comprehend tasks and is especially prevalent in younger learners.

It is important to note that the different methods of learning should all be used together for optimal understanding and memory improvement.


Tactile learners:

• Tactile learners need to move
• Learn quickly when they are moving around
• Enjoy touching items they are learning about
• Are often coordinated with physical movement
• Have a good sense of space hand-eye coordination
• Respond best with hands-on activities
• Do better in practical projects
• Tactile learners are often also visual learners
• Might be seen as a “problem” child, but actually just needs to move
• Love to figure out how things work for themselves


Teaching a tactile learner:

• Tactile learners need space to move, dance, swing their legs or walk while they are learning in an area where they won’t disrupt other learners
• Use games such as hop scotch
• Keep their hands busy to avoid distractions e.g. ask them to sketch / draw the concept being discussed
• Be clear in your expectations for the task
• Teach them to do deep breathing when stressed to physically relieve their stress
• Use repetitive movements
• Some reading material will have items to feel, push, move these will be ideal
• Use practical items around the child to visualise concepts e.g. to understand a map of the world, one can use sand for the desert, grass for grasslands, stones for mountains etc.
• Create card games, teaching cards etc. for example practical teaching cards


Tactile learners and the brain

Tactile / kinaesthetic learners are engaging both parts of the brain simultaneously thus tactile activity creates very strong neural pathways. The areas in the brain used during tactile or kinaesthetic learning are the basal ganglia, cerebellum and cerebral cortex. The basal ganglia receive information as to what the learner is feeling to the other sections of the brain, processes them and sends them to the brain stem, the cerebral cortex stores the information and is involved in cognitive functions including long - and short-term memory. The cerebellum regulates movement and is found by the brain stem (the area needed for basic life functions such as breathing).


Safety with tactile learners

Tactile learners battle to sit still and will be the one jumping off the top of the jungle gym!

General safety rules should be clear, with safe avenues available to explore and time to run and play. Make sure you have a first aid kit ready for cuts and bruises! This can be as simple as having clean water, with a sprinkle of salt to clean the cuts. Make children aware of fire risk, burn hazards ege.g. staying away from gas stoves, fire places etc. Giving opportunities for the child to be active, instead of looking for something to keep them busy helps to prevent accidents.