If you’ve spent time reading up on interventions for learning differences, you have probably come across multisensory learning. For example, the phrase pops up reasonably often in descriptions of dyslexia therapies. But what exactly is multisensory learning, other than a buzzword? Read on to find out.
We absorb information in many different ways. Sometimes we learn by seeing, such as when we read a text. Or we may learn by hearing, as when a teacher explains a lesson to us.
For some children learning by one particular sense may pose a challenge. Dyslexics have difficulty matching what they hear (spoken language) with what they see (written language).
Multisensory learning presents information using more than one sense, opening up new brain learning channels. This makes it easier for children to learn in ways that come naturally to them and helps them develop new skills and better retain information.
Let’s take dyslexia as an example again. As we said before, associating letters with just a visual depiction and spoken sound is tough for someone with dyslexia. So many intervention programs use multisensory learning to associate letters with colors, movement, shapes, touch, and music.
Some well-known teaching methods that use multisensory learning to teach reading and writing include the Orton-Gillingham Approach, the Barton Reading System, and the Lexia-Hermann Method. Teachers use movement, colors, and other associations to teach the basics of reading and writing in a one-on-one or classroom setting.
Other methods use technology to give students access to multisensory learning. Constructor School uses learning games that associate letters and numbers with shapes, colors, and musical tones to improve students’ reading, spelling and math skills.
For further reading on multisensory learning, have a look at these articles:
- Multisensory Instruction: What You Need to Know – Understood.org
- What are Multisensory Teaching Techniques? – Lexicon Reading Center
- Reading and spelling programs (the list includes some multisensory instruction) – Dyslexia Help, University of Michigan