Friday, June 5, 2015

Multi-sensory Learning

Multi-sensory teaching is often recommended for children with learning differences. All children, all people in fact, benefit from this type of teaching. When person says, "I need to see something on a chart to understand it," or "I can listen to a lecture and learn much better than by reading," or "I need to do it, not just see it," they are saying they learn better by seeing, hearing, or doing. In order to reach all her students a good teacher does more than just lecture. And, despite individual learning strengths, we all do better with a combination of methods that allow us to hear, see, and do something while learning.

Children, of course, do not always know their learning strengths. Think of how many older students aren't sure how to study for a test.  If your child is having difficulty with homework you might try various methods to see which one helps her the most.

Some ways to study may include:
  • Visual learning (sight): Charts, graphs, pictures, flash cards, reading material before a lecture, drawing a picture
  • Auditory learning (hearing): Tapes, music, audio with video, mnemonics, having the student say a word or describe a procedure's steps aloud
  • Tactile (touch - fine motor skills): Making models, feeling materials such as writing in sand or shaving cream, puffy paint flash cards, student-made flash cards
  • Kinesthetic (movement - gross motor skills): Jumping onto the correct answer, games requiring running or throwing, large in-the-air writing
How might this translate into specific activities?

Math:  Concept: division  with a remainder
  • Visual: Demonstration on board or paper - Color coding numbers for place in equation  
  • Tactile: Demonstration with items or have child demonstrate with items
  • Kinesthetic: Large problem written on sidewalk with chalk which allows a a child to jump to number's places and then write, dance to the Division Song
  • Auditory: Saying a mnemonic to remember the procedural steps. For example: Does McDonald's Serve Cheese Burgers? [D]ivide, [M]ultiply, [S]ubtract, [C]heck, [B]ring down
Spelling:  Learn words for spelling tests
  • Visual: Writing the words in different colors - have child put phonemic marks on words
  • Tactile: Writing words with a finger in sand, shaving cream, or lightly on sandpaper -write words several times, spelling words on fingers
  • Auditory: spelling the words out loud, singing the spelling of a word  
  • Kinesthetic: Writing difficult words as a large as you can on a board, closing eyes to write words on large sheets of paper
Homework involving memory or learning a new concept is easier when you think about how your child learns best.  Confucius's quote, "I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand," overlooks the fact that children learn best if they hear, see and do . . . and maybe sing, dance, and color.

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