ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside September / October 2010

The World at Our Fingertips: The Connection Between Touch and Learning

The sense of touch helps children to ground abstract ideas in concrete experiences



iStockPhoto

One evening while one of us (Colosi) was making dinner, her six-year-old daughter, Gianna, appeared with 10 little pieces of paper in her hand. She had been doing her homework, she said, and each of the scraps contained one of the words she was supposed to learn. When her mother asked why Gianna had torn apart her spelling list, she shrugged: “So I can do stuff with it.” For Gianna, abstract concepts became easier to understand after she had transformed them into physical objects—in this case, pieces of paper she could hold, feel and manipulate.

The connection between touch and understanding is deeply instinc­tual, beginning in infancy and continuing, in varying forms, throughout our lives. Experiments have found that touch is as important as vision for learning and retaining information. Studies also show that tactile activities such as playing with blocks help children improve everything from their math abilities to their thinking skills. We are knowledge architects, building intellectual edifices through physical experiences.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $9.99

Subscribe Now! >

X

Email this Article

X