Multisensory learning is learning that involves two or more of the senses within the same activity. Like adults, children take in information about their world in a variety of ways:
- auditory (through their ears)
- visual (through their eyes)
- tactile (through touch)
- kinesthetic (through body movements)
This process occurs naturally, starting even before birth. Babies learn about the world by observing, listening, and putting everything within reach into their mouths. Toddlers try to touch or grab everything they see, and preschoolers ask what sometimes seems like millions of questions. All of these children are learning in a very natural way; we rarely have to teach them how to do these things.
When young children use multiple senses to process new information, they learn by doing what they do best – investigating, exploring and discovering. For this reason, Nemours BrightStart! believes that the best way for children to learn is to allow them to:
See it! Hear it! Do it! and Touch it!
“Tell me and I’ll forget;
show me and I may remember;
involve me and I’ll understand.”
How many times have you told your little one to do something – once – and that was all you had to do? More than likely, you had to tell your child what to do, show him exactly how to do it, and then involve him in the process by letting him give it his best try.
The same holds true for learning pre-reading skills.
When we want children to remember something new, we must first create connections through multiple pathways in the brain. The more connections we can make, the better.
Which do you think is more likely to make a lasting impact?
Telling your child, “This is the letter Aa.”
Showing her what Aa looks like (See It!) and
Saying, “The letter Aa makes the /ă/ sound.” (Hear It!) and
Showing and naming a picture of an /ă/ /ă/ apple (See It!; Hear It!) and
Forming the shape of the letter Aa in the air (Do It!) and
Touching and tracing the shape of the letter Aa (Touch It!)
Hopefully, the answer is clear. By involving your child and as many of his senses as possible in the learning process, you increase the likelihood that he will remember and retain new information. And as a bonus, multisensory learning is hands-on and fun!