Healing with the human touch

3rd August 2007 at 01:00
In his article, "Touch me, I'm a doctor" (TES magazine, July 27), Phil Hammond writes of the importance that touch can have in healing. The same could be said of learning, and that includes the appropriate use of touch.

Touch can be an important way to help a child to feel affirmed, calm and secure. I freeIy admit to being a "touchy" teacher. In my work in a receptioninfant class, through the Family Links nurturing programme I have taught "gentle touch". This includes children learning to pass a gentle hand squeeze, a touch on the shoulder and a smile, and simple massage in which children may choose whether or not to take part. Most do and a wonderful calm descends on the class.

I find that a reassuring touch on the head or arm can be very important in establishing contact with a child as well as welcoming each child by name each morning (as advocated by Anne Peachey, one of the primary heads who received a Teaching Award this year (TES, July 27).

Of course, it is always important to be sensitive to those who do and don't feel comfortable with touch, but I am sad when I hear of teachers avoiding all physical contact when some children for a wide range of reasons may need to make this type of contact.

Christine Chalstrey

Wootton-by-Woodstock Church of England primary school, Oxfordshire

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