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Multisensory Learning – The Key to Reading and Spelling

If you’ve ever sung a song to remember your times tables or come up with a dance to remember facts for your science exam, you have incidentally engaged in something called multisensory learning.

What is multisensory learning?
Multisensory learning engages our visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), kinesthetic (motion) and tactile (touch) senses and benefits ALL students. Multisensory learning gives us the best opportunity to understand new information and gives us more ways to recall it after a period of time.

What is the relationship between multisensory learning and literacy?
Typically in the classroom, children use the senses of sight and hearing. They see the words they’re reading and they listen to their teacher talking. However, children who experience difficulties with literacy may also have difficulty processing information when it’s only presented verbally and visually.

By adding more opportunities to engage more of the senses, we can help these children to learn and retain the information that is critical to learning how to read and spell. Often, children are asked to show their knowledge in tasks that require the use of their weakest sense, so linking all of the senses together bridges the gaps that can exist.

What do researchers say about multisensory learning?
Margaret Byrd Rawson, a former President of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), summed up multisensory learning for those who experience difficulties with literacy perfectly.

“They need to be taught, slowly and thoroughly, the basic elements of their language. They need to be taught the sounds and the letter which represents them and how to put these together and take them apart. They have to have lots of practise in having their writing hands, eyes, ears and voices working together for conscious organization and retention of their learning.”

Additionally, according to Shaywitz,

“… a dyslexic reader can develop awareness of the sound structure of a word by physically forming the word with their lips, tongue and vocal cords.”

Why choose The Reading Spelling Toolkit?
With this research in mind, The Reading Spelling Toolkit was designed to introduce each sound and letter pattern in a multisensory way. As each new sound is introduced, the following senses are used to ensure success, regardless of a child’s learning style:

  • Sight/Visual – Your child will be asked to look at a letter(s), say the name of the letter(s) and the matching sound, while linking them to an image based on where the sound is made in the mouth.
  • Touch/Movement/Kinaesthetic – Your child will engage their spatial understanding to see the letter, its direction and will be asked to use movement through a range of physical activities and games to write the shape of the letter or letters.
  • Hearing/Auditory – Your child will listen to themselves say the letter name and sound, and at the same time, they will link it to a clue word and visual letter pattern.
  • Oral Movement/Oral Kinaesthetic – Your child will be asked to repeat the sound while matching it to a letter or group of letters and a clue word. While doing this, attention will be drawn to feeling the position of the teeth, tongue and lips when producing the sound.

Visit The Reading Spelling Toolkit to find out more about the unique multisensory learning approach used to teach reading and spelling.

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