If your child is struggling or simply not enjoying school, instead of teaching in traditional ways, try a multisensory teaching method, which simultaneously engages all of the senses. By incorporating specific elements in your teaching approach, you can ensure that each child will learn and that you can successfully teach multiple children at once. Multisensory teaching also creates a richer learning experience, benefiting even those who can learn in more traditionally accepted ways.
Key elements in a multisensory approach:
1. Be sure it is hands-on. Children who best learn this way need to physically interact with materials; it will not be enough to simply hear something in order to remember it. They may physically build an item, or come up with their own way to find a solution to a problem. After they have worked out their learning, asking them to talk about what they did will deepen their understanding and their ability to remember the lesson.
2. Rely on visuals. Showing the learning in a picture (chart, graph, word map, etc) will enable children who learn visually to have a way to remember it. They may take a mental picture of the image you give them and then mentally see this when they encounter the idea in the future. (Research tells us that children from ages 4-7 will learn most effectively through these key elements).
3. Incorporate movement. Children who best learn through movement need to use motions that mimic the shape of learning. For example, children who are learning their alphabet may be helped by making the shape of the letters with their whole bodies while saying the sound of the letter.
4. Detect patterns. These occur both in math and in reading. Children who learn by patterns need to have information presented in groups and these patterns pointed out. For example, when working with spelling lists, it may help to group words like play, say, may etc. together. An effective math pattern is 0+7=7, 1+6=7, 2+5=7, 3+4=7.
5. Tell stories. By embedding rhyme and rhythm into stories which give a reason for why something is the way it is, children who best learn through stories will have a way to remember. When later asked to recall the piece of information, they may remember the story complete with the characters. An example is the letter A. We can say it is like an anthill (which has the same shape) and that a bug got tired while trying to climb up the side so tunneled straight through instead, forming the cross bar on the A.
6. Use humor. Humor will engage a child in the learning process. Telling a funny story about what they are learning will make the child want to learn.
After completing a multisensory lesson, ask your children “How did you remember that?” Talking about it will help you to better understand your children and know how to tailor future teaching. Realize that each child may learn in a combination of ways. Making children verbalize the way they remember also helps them understand themselves, allowing for future success in learning while boosting their confidence.
Lesson plans using the multisensory approach are available in the Easy-for-Me™ Reading Program.