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3 Reasons to Incorporate Multisensory Teaching Techniques

June 29, 2017
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Multisensory learning is when a student has multiple senses—sight, hearing, movement, and touch, for example—stimulated at the same time. Teaching techniques often engage either students’ visual or auditory systems, but have you thought about the benefits you and your students are missing when other senses are neglected? Here are three reason to incorporate multisensory teaching techniques in your classroom.

  1. Students learn differently and require different stimuli.

Students, as you know, don’t all process information in the same way. Most students have a specific learning type—a way of receiving information that is optimal to their given personality and cognition. Some students are strong listeners and are able to understand concepts by simply listening to an explanation, while others may need to draw out concepts with pencil and paper. Some are excellent at tracking information with their eyes and prefer to watch a play, while others learn best by acting it out. Speaking to students and highlighting examples as they follow along may be effective for some, but others may find themselves lost. Even students who respond well to the watch-and-listen technique may not be processing information as well as they could be. Multisensory teaching techniques express information that can be received by multiple senses. This way, each student, regardless of learning type, is provided with a means of understanding information.

  1. Faster cognitive development

Multisensory learning environments also enhance brain function. Each sensory system has targets in the brain that stimulate cognitive function:

  • Somatic/tactile learning promotes fine motor skills.
  • Vestibular/kinesthetic learning promotes body memory.
  • Olfaction and gustatory systems provide strong sensations that remain strongly connected to the information to which they are associated.

It’s not surprising that when students hear information, and it’s connected to another sense, they’re able to conceptualize and later apply that information better than students who just watch and listen. Multisensory teaching techniques stimulate the brain in a variety of ways so that each sensory system becomes more developed and higher functioning. This improves essential functions of the brain such as listening skills, movement, vision, tactile recognition, and conceptualization.

  1. Students will be more involved in learning.

It’s easy for a student to zone out. The school day is nearly seven hours long, and it’s difficult for students to pay attention to hours of information when it’s delivered the same way. Students are attentive when multisensory teaching techniques are implemented due to the amount of stimulation the brain receives at one time. If a student is doing something tactically or physically while listening to instructions and seeing information, then there’s less opportunity for the student’s attention to stray. Teaching in a way that forces a student’s senses to work with one another not only allows students to make stronger connections to the information, it demands more focus but in a more enjoyable way.

Tools for Multisensory Teaching:

  • SOMATO (Somatic sensation + Vestibular + Vision): SOMATO is a keycap surface system that allows students to “feel their words.” Basically, it makes typing more like handwriting. Requiring no change of typing behavior, this up-and-coming tool makes typing more interactive and stimulating via the use of tactile character recognition. SOMATO allows each key to be individually recognized by the student’s fingertips using bumps and ridges and, therefore, adds a new sensory dimension to typing. For all ages
  • TouchMath (Somatic Sensation + Vestibular + Vision): TouchMath’s 3-D Numerals use physical numbers so that math can be touched. These physical numerals are five inches in length and have TouchPoints that help students develop numeral/quality association. The product comes with activity sheets that can be printed from a CD. For Pre-K – 1 + special education
  • Education Place (Vestibular + Auditory): Education Place is a website with a variety of instructions for different activities that can be performed in the classroom. There are dozens of different categories and fields of activities and there are activities for all ages. These activities allow students to learn by doing. Students learn to communicate and brainstorm with each other in order to reach their goals. For all ages