A couple of days ago I had a phone call from a first grade teacher who wanted to discuss a child in her class she is concerned about. Let’s call him Oliver. She shared with me various observations she had made as she puzzled through how best to help Oliver learn.
- He benefits from hearing himself talk through the concept he’s learning, which signals an auditory learner. So she fashioned an auditory amplification tool for him out of a PVC joint, to which Oliver responded happily. If you want an auditory amplification device and don’t feel like using PVC, we do carry two versions of this product. It will not only amplify the child’s voice, but will increase focus by helping the child hear his own voice more clearly than background noise.
- This teacher uses SnapWords™ sight word picture cards in her classroom, and she noticed that when Oliver read her the plain words during assessments, he was doing the body motions he’d learned from the backs of the SnapWords™ cards. Because so many children benefit from the multisensory elements of the SnapWords™ we have designed more words and now we have 607 SnapWords™ encompassing 220 Dolch, 500 Fountas & Pinnell, and 300 Fry words and more. This product is a valuable and irreplaceable tool to add to your arsenal!
- Oliver also seemed to be helped by having a visual embedded in the symbols, which is a mark of a visual learner. In addition, his teacher said that when he took traditional spelling tests, he was unable to succeed unless she chose words that had a sound spelling in common, at which point he was able to pass the spelling test. She said he seems to need to be able to find a pattern in learning in order to succeed. Again, a global, visual child.
I found the conversation very interesting because of the particular combinations of strengths/needs this child displays. It is pretty common to find children who enjoy both the body movement and the visual elements, but rarely have I come across a child that also required the auditory piece as well as visual and kinesthetic elements in learning.
My discussion with Oliver's teacher then went to our resource The Illustrated Book of Sounds & Their Spelling Patterns and how this approach to teaching spelling, phonics, comprehension, etc., is very multisensory as well. The approach is simple and frankly entertaining, but the power behind the simplicity of the approach lies in the multisensory aspects of the lessons. Here are just some of the multisensory elements:
- Pattern-seeking. Each lesson focuses on one sound spelling, and every target word in the lesson contains that letter combination so the child can naturally see that element in every word with one glance at the sheet.
- Color-coding. The child uses a yellow highlighter or crayon to color only the letters that use the sound spelling (for instance “OW” or “AI”) and when they have finished coloring the target spelling, you can tell them, “Each time you see yellow, just say ‘OU’ (or ‘AI’). The color makes the sound spellings pop from the page visually.
- Hooks. The words are arranged in sentences to tie them together in a way that is easy for the child to remember. Imagine handing your child 10 puzzle pieces that have no connection to each other. Will it be easy for him to remember what each one looks like? Or what if you handed him 10 puzzle pieces that when joined together showed the image of a river? Which would it be easier for him to remember? The sentence is the glue that connects all the words that use the same sound spelling. Example of a group of words hooked together: “Say, I may play in the spray all day.”
- Visuals. Each sentence is illustrated with a cartoon that shows the meaning of the sentence which contains the words with the spellings we are teaching. The visual draws in the visual learner, provides yet another means for embedding the learning in the child’s mind (but in a different region of the brain from the auditory).
- Auditory. The child reads the sentence to you or with you.
- Multisensory – it happens all at one time. The child sees the color-coding, the illustration, and the global collection of words containing the sound spelling. He hears himself reading the words and sounding out the words as he writes them. He writes, watching himself write, hearing himself speak and sound, all of it a combination of pathways to the brain and to learning that is occurring at one time.
While no one child is a purist, we can generalize that some children are strongly visual, others are strongly auditory, while still others are predominantly kinesthetic learners. It is good practice, however, when teaching any young child to use as many pathways to the brain as possible. This is true multisensory teaching/learning. What will happen if you do this is that the child will have a richer learning experience. There will be fewer chances for something to slip by him, or for him to not understand a concept. If you are teaching a class full of children, it makes no sense to try and teach specifically to one type of learner. You cannot teach the same lesson in multiple ways; you just won’t have time to do that! So it makes perfect sense to teach to the modalities and have the child’s experience be multisensory as well.
Child1st has done so much for you by the very design of our products. We combine visual, kinesthetic, and auditory elements in our product design, and the process of learning becomes more effortless for so many children. Children can enjoy the color, the activity, the humor, the sense of accomplishment and competence that they need to fuel even more success in learning!
Let’s help our children love learning!