Multi-Sensory Teaching Techniques

Children who struggle to learn the sound/symbol relationship of written language are often dyslexic. In fact, one in ten children and adults have dyslexia.

Unfortunately, children often go undiagnosed until they reach the second or third grades of elementary school. While many reach adulthood before they realize they are dyslexic.

Dyslexia is a genetic based condition that affects an individuals’ ability to read, write and spell and their overall individual potential. Researchers in reading education know the best way to teach dyslexics how to read is with multi-sensory reading strategies. Multi-sensory teaching environments stimulate all the sensory channels of the brain – auditory, visual, kinesthetic and tactile.

What are multi-sensory techniques? Lessons that support the connection of spoken language with visual language symbols (letters, words), includes the use of touch and body movements—helping dyslexic learners understand and learn written language. Also, it’s important to recognize children learn differently and their particular learning styles need to be applied, especially during reading instruction.

Here are four pathways/styles of learning every teacher and parent should learn and use with their dyslexic learners. Complemented with multi-sensory techniques that reflect each style of learning:

Visual: These are learners who typically think in terms of pictures. They prefer to see written handouts, instructions listed on the blackboard or the overhead projector. Charts, maps, and graphs printed on paper are their preferred way of learning. Multi-sensory techniques excellent to use with this group of learners are: tracing letters or word made from sand paper, out of yarn, or in a shallow pan of rice or sand.

Auditory: These learners use their sense of hearing. They learn information better when they can hear the information. Students usually learn best through lectures and reading aloud. As a child trace letters or words he or she needs to simultaneously say the letter(s) or words.

Tactile: The sense of touch strengthens memory for all the learning pathways. Multi-sensory techniques include writing letters and names in shaving cream, birdseed and carpet. Using moveable three-dimensional letters (magnetic letters) and making letters out of Play-Doh also support the sensory pathway/style of these learners.

Kinesthetic: Often called hands on learners, these learners learn best by physically performing tasks, to learn new information. Kinesthetic learners need to use their bodies by touching, feeling and experiencing what they’re learning–muscle has memory. Sky writing letters and words (using arms to spell is a large muscle movement). Jumping on the floor, movement of lips, the tongue (to break words into syllables) and using moveable letters are multi-sensory techniques that help these learners.

Using multi-sensory techniques is the key to success when teaching both children and adult dyslexics. These learners need their particular pathways, or rather styles of learning applied during reading instruction. So, they can learn, understand and master the sounds and symbols of our written language, and become accomplished readers and writers.




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