Signs Of A Hands-On Learner

Welcome to the Hands-On Learning series by Stef Layton, where she answers questions she’s received about tactile learners. Do you have a hands-on learner? These posts will give you great insight, advice, and practical application tips. Enjoy!

Rachel asked, “Were there any signs early on in your homeschooling that clued you in that your boys were more tactile learners?”

​I wish I could pat myself on the back and tell you I noticed my son was highly tactile right out of the womb when he shook his tiny fists at us. But the truth – I did not notice. I was not “tuned” into love languages or learning styles when we started homeschooling. I was out of my comfort zone and in survival mode.

Once I overcame my fear of failing as a homeschool mom I started to notice my son. I became interested in how he learned and how he felt loved. Zan Tyler’s book, 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential, really opened my eyes to him.

signs of a hands-on learner

Signs of a Hands-On Learner

 1. Listen for Questions. The first year of homeschool my son asked to see everything. “Can you show me” and “What does that look like” filled our mornings. I would become so frustrated and think he was purposely stalling. Then it magically dawned on me the boy is visual. At an early age children naturally love picture books so incorporate more visuals. As the years progressed he wanted to see it then build it. Tune your ears to pick up on their questions.

2. Make Play Matter. The more you can play with your early learners the better. Offer many different play opportunities. My son picked building blocks over every other toy every time. {my auditory learner runs straight for the music box and loves to dance on stage at church}

3. Ask “Or” Questions. Give your children a chance to pick an activity, and notice which type of activity they choose repeatedly. 8 times out of 10 my son would pick something to do with his hands. “Do you want to draw the statue of liberty or act like a statue? Do you want to sing the ABC song or build the alphabet with Scrabble tiles?” Again, see what the student picks repeatedly of two choices.

​4. Look for Clues. Children usually give off clues to their learning style and love language outside of the “school” time. What are favorite toys? How do they retell a story? Which senses do they favor? Pay attention outside of the school books.

5. Notice the No’s. I was so focused on what my son did like I forgot to notice the things he did not enjoy. He hated to sing song back to any type of educational song. While his 3 yr old brother was belting out 8 Parts of Speech on the way to Classical Conversations, my 2nd grader sat tight-lipped. It took me 6 months of singing Eleanor of Aquitaine by myself to finally realize the child was not auditory and hated the program. {disclaimer, CC is a great program I loved it – it just wasn’t a great fit for our son!}

Boy wouldn’t it be easy if children came with an owner’s manual? Just when I became comfortable with a hands-on learner my second child surprises us being an auditory learner. Also, be careful of labels. Noticing a learning style should help you to better teach but not pigeon-hole your child. Always explore new and different activities regardless if you have hands-on learners.

Thankfully, we can pray and ask God to reveal our children’s uniqueness to us. Give yourself time and grace – we are still homeschooling even though it took me the 1st 3 years to figure out what all this “learning style” talk was all about.


Stef Layton lives in Orlando, Florida homeschooling two tactile learners. Stef is the Hands-On Learning Columnist for Homeschooling Today magazine. This year she started showing hands-on activities on youtube. You can follow her at her blog or, Instagram, or Twitter @StefMLayton.


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