Multisensory Learning Experiences That Benefit All Brains
Since no two kids learn the same way, developing the ability to meet their primary learning modalities is a major way of ensuring you’re driving benefits to the maximum number of these little brains.
What’s a Learning Modality?
It’s how students use sensory information to learn new information. While some students have a single predominant modality, others have a blend of two or three.
The three fundamental modalities are:
- Auditory students, who learn from what they hear
- Visual students, who learn from what they see
- Kinesthetic students, who learn from what they do, touch, and move
Though some experts add a fourth one – “tactile” to this list, we’ll keep it easy by focusing on the three major types of learning.
The chart below summarizes the features of the learning modalities to help you identify them in your students.
Features of Learning Modalities
- enjoy music
- are chatty
- talk to themselves aloud (particularly when reading or studying)
- get distracted easily
- hum or sing frequently
- are great with names
- spell well
- like to read
- have good handwriting
- find oral instructions hard to follow or understand
- tap pencils or feet when studying or reading
- put comfort over style when choosing how to dress
- don’t like reading
- touch people while talking
- enjoy physical rewards
- spell poorly
- convey emotions physically
Quite frequently, children are anticipated to depend on their vision and visual skills to look at and read information. Sometimes, hearing is put into the mix when teachers speak. However, multisensory learning is a lot more than that.
Multisensory teaching tries to involve all five senses. Though it’s impossible to engage a child’s all five senses in every single lesson, engaging at least more than one is the objective. Thus, in multisensory teaching, teachers share information via as many senses as possible.
Recommended Tools for Learning Modalities
Auditory students could enjoy
- rhythmic sounds
- poems and rhymes
Visual students could take advantage of
- mind maps
- color codes
Kinesthetic students may benefit from
- walking as they read
- stretch breaks
- role play
Teachers shouldn’t include a sensory activity just for the sake of adding it. Instead, they should alternate between the modalities to make sense of the subject matter’s context. This means you should bring variation in your instructions but avoid integrating a movement activity (for instance) without any reason. It’s also crucial to avoid implanting any solid ideas into kids’ heads about what kind of students they are because this can restrict their growth and development.
When implemented properly, multisensory instruction helps children leverage their learning strengths by building connections and creating memories in their own natural ways. It also allows them to use different methods to display mastery of what they’ve learned.
At the core of multisensory teaching lies the fact that students learn in diverse ways, and it helps to meet the various requirements of all kids to let each student learn and succeed in the classroom.