Thursday, July 06, 2006

How to read with your tactile child

You will most likely know whether your child is tactile. They are the ones who look down when you speak to them and explore clothes in the shop by touching instead of looking. They love fingering fabrics, stroking wooden furniture, experimenting with play dough. If you cut out stars and moons from a piece of felt, a visual child might want to glue them onto a piece of paper to create “art”, but your tactile child will be happiest just handling them.

An auditory child will enjoy hearing you read a book to her. A visual child will want to read the book herself - even if she’s too small to read, she’ll want to look at the pictures, so you must remember to position the book for her, not for you.

But how do you encourage a tactile child to read, particularly if they’re not a mixture of auditory/tactile or visual/tactile?

As with any other child, the trick is to begin early, as soon as your baby can sit up. Use touch-and-feel baby books specifically designed to introduce texture: fur, wool, felt, silk, sandpaper, mirror, bumpy surfaces. Try interactive books for older toddlers: ones with flaps, sound buttons, jigsaw puzzles. For bath time, use specially designed waterproof books - some of them even come with squirt-buttons or bubbles.

Props are a fantastic reading aid for tactile children. If you’re reading “We’re going on a Bear Hunt”, for example, let your child cuddle a soft toy bear and make her point to Teddy’s “two furry ears” and “two goggly eyes”.

Allow your child to handle the book themselves: to hold it, to read the pages, to point at pictures. When your child begins to read herself, make sure she is allowed to follow the text with her finger as she reads, even if she’s “advanced enough not to need that”. Remember, tactile children need tactile input, no matter what their age or skill level.

With tactile children who are also kinesthetic, act out the book together as you read it (it may be a good idea to record the words onto tape first). Move from the sofa through the lounge as you’re going on your bear hunt. Wade through the river. Get stuck in the mud. Stumble in the forest. Tiptoe through the cave (by now you should be at the other end of the house).

The most important lesson you’re teaching your child is that reading is fun. As soon as you notice their attention fading, stop. Little and often is better than none at all!

If you’d like to check whether your child’s tactile, kinesthetic, visual or auditory, have a look at

To improve your child’s reading skill, have a look at:

1 comment:

Shara said...

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