Touch Math 101: What It Is, the Benefits, and More

Posted by Krystie Yeo on

Education is constantly evolving to make learning easier and more efficient for children. Social scientists have spent years studying the different ways that children learn. By understanding the ways children learn, educators can adapt their curriculum and teaching style to accommodate everyone.

One of these new teaching concepts is called touch math. It is a way instructors can teach basic math skills using visual and tactile senses. This approach allows children to learn using the strategy that works best for them rather than letting them struggle to learn the traditional way. 

Ready to learn more about touch math and how you can use it with your child or students? Keep reading!

What Is Touch Math?

The basic principle behind touch math is that children can use their sense of touch to learn about numbers.

Each number has dots on it to indicate the value of that number. For example, the number one has one dot at the very top of the number. For the number two, there are two dots, one at the top left where the number begins and one at the bottom right where the number ends.

This same strategy is used for numbers one through five. For numbers six through nine there is not enough space on the number to put the right amount of dots. So, a dot becomes worth two. You can indicate this using some kind of special mark with the dot. 

For numbers seven and nine you will need a combination of regular dots (with a value of one) and special dots (with a value of two). You can see helpful examples of touch math worksheets here.

As children are learning to count they will point, or "touch", the dot while looking at the number. They will also count out loud to hear the numbers as they say them. This allows them to memorize what the number looks like along with its value. In this way, counting becomes a hands-on math activity.

How To Use Touch Math

Now you have a better idea of the basics behind touch math. It's a great way to use visual math for children that learn better by seeing and doing. 

Touch math is used for more than just counting. It can also be used for basic arithmetic. When adding, children are instructed to count up as they touch each point on each number. For subtraction, they count down the points. Learning addition and subtraction this way allows children to visualize the value and how each number relates to the other.

Children can also use touch math for multiplication and division. For multiplication, children use the sequence or "skip" method. This is a way to organize numbers in a series. For example, the sequence for 5s is 5, 10, 15, 20 etc.

A similar strategy is used for division. As the child counts up the number of sequence digits they are learning how many of one number goes into the other. For example, 10 divided by 5 would involve the child counting two numbers in the sequence (5 and 10). Therefore, the answer is two.

You can use these tools to teach basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Then, the child will be able to build on those skills as the math gets more complicated.

What Are The Benefits to Touch Math?

The biggest benefit of touch math is the appeal for students that are visual learners or kinesthetic learners (children who learn by touching or doing). Math can be too abstract for some children. So a visual representation is easier to understand.

Touch math is also a strict, rule-based system. Unlike learning a language, touch math has no exceptions or special circumstances. Children tend to do better when they can follow a set of rules or patterns to get to the solution.

Using touch math is a simple structure that all educators can use. It eliminates the need to try to teach different students with different methods. It appeals to a broader range of students even if their abilities in other subjects differ. Touch math has even been proved an effective strategy when used with children with disabilities

Touch math improves the child's ability to understand the concept of numbers and counting. Numbers, unlike letters, have a value assigned to them. This value is represented by the dots. So, touch math also teaches children critical thinking skills as well as reasoning skills.

Where Is Touch Math Taught?

Touch math can be used in schools with large groups of kids, or one-on-one with a parent. And given the current climate, many kids are doing some learning at school and some at home. Touch math requires very few materials outside of a pencil and paper which makes it perfect for homeschooling.

Typically, touch math is taught between kindergarten and third grade. This is when kids learn basic math skills, counting, and even some word problem-solving skills. The fundamental skills they learn during this time helps them learn more advanced math from fourth grade onward.

Touch math is taught at schools all over the country. It has shown to be effective and more enjoyable for students and instructors. 

If you are a parent that wants to teach your child touch math, there are some great resources online. The principles are very basic and you'll pick up on how to teach it in no time at all.

Making the Most of Touch Math

The use of touch math has grown immensely over the past decade. Parents and teachers have used this visual math learning to help kids with all different ability levels succeed at math.

The touch math system is an effective method for teaching basic counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Its unique nature appeals to different learning styles. If you are looking to improve your child's math skills, consider using this approach.

If you are interested in additional math, language, and other education resources, check out our site for books, task bins, and more!

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