Healing with the human 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.
Wootton-by-Woodstock Church of England primary school, Oxfordshire