Multisensory Methods and Teaching
What Is a Multisensory Method?
Children have very different learning styles. When a multisensory approach of seeing, hearing, saying and writing the phonograms and spelling words directly from dictation is used, then all students will learn whether they have a learning mode that is auditory, visual or kinesthetic.
A multisensory method has a synergistic effect of addressing the stronger learning mode while reinforcing the weakest; it is effective for beginning, remedial and advanced students.
Other Methods Involved In Multisensory Learning
Most people learn through two main ways; seeing and hearing. However, modern research now shows that a number of students need a variety of learning styles to learn effectively.
An important method of learning is the tactile method. This involves children using a-hands-on approach. I know personally that I learn MUCH better when I can physically do a task or complete an assignment by using my sense of touch, for some reason that information just ‘sticks’ with me longer.
Another method that that offers a tremendous benefit to teachers and students is the kinesthetic method. This method involves stimulating students’ fine-motor skills by playing games; such as, jump roping, juggling (one of my personal favorites), and basketball – to list just a few- all while being paired with activities such as signing songs related to certain concepts. An example of this would be juggling while reciting mnemonic catch phrases in order remember the sounds involved with each phonogram.
Does Using a Multisensory Method Work?
Absolutely! Research conducted by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has shown the tremendous value of using explicit, structured language teaching for all students, especially for students with dyslexia! Although, they have haven’t pinpointed the exact reason why it’s so effective, they have discovered that programs that use multi sensory practice for symbol learning are highly valuable.
“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” — Robert Frost Click to Tweet
What Instructional Approaches Are Effective?
The use of direct, explicit teaching of letter- sound-relationships, syllable patterns and meaningful word parts, fluency building exercises, language instruction and vocabulary instruction are key to a great multisensory based program.
An important aspect to an effective instructional approach is making sure that it has a great deal of successful practice sessions of the skills that have been learned. Review, review, review!
While reviewing, it’s important to mark any mistakes that the student may make, let no mistakes stand! This ensures that that word recognition and spelling skills are applied in a beneficial and meaningful manner when writing sentences or reading literature. By not letting any mistakes stand such as; skipping words, guessing at words or using invented spellings, it allows the teacher to ingrain meaningful knowledge on how to read and analyze unknown words.
Principles Involved In a Structured, Multisensory Language Approach
Here is a quick rundown of a few principles that should be applied when using a well structured, multisensory phonetic language arts program:
Like learning anything new, it requires the teacher to be able to gauge what is right for each individual student. Some students may progress faster than others and vice-versa. Monitoring progress and adjusting for each individual student is key. A good multisensory program will make this adjustment easy as pie.
This method uses all the pathways in the brain, i.e.; kinesthetic, visual, auditory and tactile. Using this either sequentially or simultaneously provides excellent benefits.
When learning a new language or phonograms or anything of importance, it’s important that direct teaching of all concepts include constant student-teacher interaction and review.
Systematic and Cumulative:
The organized material should follow the logical order of the language being taught. The basic underlying principle here is to teach the information from easiest to hardest and building each concept upon the last, that way, when reviewing each concept (an important aspect) that has been learned, review will be smooth and fruitful.
At the End of the Day
Using these tools and techniques will help any teacher who is looking for an edge when it comes to advancing our youngest generation. One thing’s for sure: we desperately need well educated youth (and adults) to further the advancement of education, our world depends on it.