This summer I have working individually with students who struggle with reading through an AmeriCorps program called Summer Reads. I have used a number of multisensory techniques in teaching reading and sight word recognition. It has been effective. I have students doubling their sight word recognition in as little as 5 weeks. I also see them transfer that knowledge into their reading fluency and comprehension.
Most schools teach only to the visual/auditory learner. Students who are tactile/kinesthetic learners fall behind. Students with learning disabilities are primarily kinesthetic learners. The majority of students I work with with special needs are tactile learners. Young children start out as kinesthetic learners. Children struggle when they try to learn in ways that aren’t natural for them. When you plan a variety of demonstrations of instruction, children can utilize their individual strengths to succeed in school (Smialek). In short, multisensory learning gives students multiple ways to remember information. Multisensory learning builds more connections in the brain and strengthens weaker connections.
Many teachers recognize the need for a multisensory approach to teaching now. Educational technology has not caught up yet. For many students, computers are not a natural way of processing information. These students learn by doing. These students learn by experiencing and touching. In the area of special education, for example, many of my students have Ipads. Many of these students don’t use them. They are more interested in touching them than watching what is happening on the screen. Haptics is for these students. Haptics is a multisensory approach to educational technology.
Most of our daily activities are carried out with our hands. With computers, the interface is still carried out through a keyboard and a mouse, “which are data input devices, that do not offer to the user any information related to the “object” he/she manipulates.” (Eric. N. Wiebe, James Minogueb, M. Gail Jonesa, Jennifer Cowley C, Denise Krebs, 2009) Human beings learn through their five senses. “But computers typically only take advantage of one or two sensory channels (sight and sound) to transmit information to people.” (7 Haptics) Children struggle when they try to learn in ways that aren’t natural for them. When you plan a variety of demonstrations of instruction, your children can utilize their individual strengths to succeed in school.