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What Is Multisensory Learning? And How It Improves Children’s Intelligence

What Is Multisensory Learning? And How It Improves Children’s Intelligence

What Is Multisensory Learning? And How It Improves Children’s Intelligence

Knowing how to improve children's reading skills is one of the most significant obstacles teachers must overcome. Even though children reach academic milestones at varying rates, using specific tactics in the classroom may help you prepare as many children as possible for reading preparation. 

Multisensory exercises are founded on the theory of whole brain learning, which claims that the most effective approach to teaching ideas is engaging several brain regions. Adding aural or visual components (such as pictures or online exercises) to reading assignments may help children improve their literacy abilities.

Intent on utilizing multisensory learning to assist your children in developing improved reading skills? Explore the facts behind whole learning and how multisensory exercises are included in the school system.

What is multisensory learning?


Multisensory learning refers to the art of helping children engage more than one of their senses while learning. This learning approach supports employing activities that appeal to their visual, aural, kinaesthetic, and tactile senses.

Why is multisensory learning important?

Multisensory instruction is one of the most successful ways for children's engagement as it is necessary to comprehend how their brains function. The evolution of the human brain has enabled it to learn and develop in a multisensory world. According to the whole brain learning hypothesis, this is the cause why all brain processes are interrelated. 

When instructions engage many senses, we retain information about a task more effectively.

Thus, multisensory learning is all about the neurobiology of how humans learn new information using two or more senses.

Multisensory learning may incorporate tactile, taste, and smell in addition to auditory and visual media, which are often included in assignments. As long as the exercise stimulates different brain regions, it helps children strengthen their memory of how to do a task.

How can you use multisensory learning?

Provided the sensory elements are connected to the topic being taught, they may assist children in learning essential ideas. For instance, while studying springtime vocabulary, you can have children build alphabet letters out of clay or give them chocolate Easter eggs. 

Most children depend on certain senses more than others; therefore, diversifying your multisensory activities will enable you to reach all of their needs.

Literacy is a multisensory ability by nature that benefits from individualized reading training. Reading requires recognition of written words and their translation into matching letter sounds.

How multisensory learning enhances development during early childhood


Before joining the junior school, children acquire the abilities that will eventually result in reading readiness. These fundamental reading abilities, such as print or letter identification, will equip children to become literate in preschool or first grade. 

The sooner basic reading methods for primary studies are included in a child's curriculum, the better their long-term reading abilities will be.

In pre-kindergarten, alphabetic decoding is an essential ability for improving reading fluency. This ability relates to understanding and implementing letter-sound correlations, which assists children in learning to identify and decode words. In addition, children can't acquire more complex skills in the future without the capacity to convert letters into sounds.

How does multisensory learning help children with disabilities?

About 15% of all public school children ranging from 3 to 21 years old need special education services. Significant numbers of children with special needs are enrolled in the school district. They need a multisensory learning strategy.


Multisensory learning can assist struggling children and individuals with reading problems, including dyslexia, autism, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, and language impairment. It helps them learn to utilize all of their senses and focus on their strengths when reading a book. 

Multisensory learning also assists children in catching up on reading, writing, and other subjects. It may also keep children focused, help with behavior management, and develop social skills.

How does multisensory learning strengthen reading skills?


As we take in knowledge and information, our brains are constantly evolving. A recent study has demonstrated that the brain can adjust and form new connections even in old age. It is crucial to explore how the brain absorbs information when we learn that a child does not react to and retain information in a typical manner.

Scientists have shown that multisensory activities may assist children in associating words or letters with sounds more quickly. For example, connecting print letters to the vocal alphabet is an emerging literacy ability that multisensory instruction may aid in teaching.

This is one of the core reading abilities that, if fostered in early childhood, may lead to the development of robust emergent literacy. Engaging children with multimedia activities is an excellent method to help them realize their reading potential.

Multisensory exercises are also used to teach more complicated reading abilities such as critical thinking and extensive reading comprehension in upper grades. For example, you may take turns reading aloud from a textbook or novel. This stimulates children’s audio and visual senses. 

Even little exercises involving several senses might teach children to use their whole brains while writing or reading.

This study demonstrates that there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to teaching reading. Different children react to different activities; thus, multisensory learning is the most effective strategy to reach all your children. 

Pay close attention to what is or is not working for your children, and seek out an activity that engages children struggling with reading. Any child’s reading abilities could improve with practice and the correct method.

What relates multisensory learning with the multiple intelligences theory?



Research on multisensory learning has been around for decades and is based on Dr. Howard Gardner's hypothesis of multiple intelligences. Dr. Gardner proposed that teaching children in a manner that takes advantage of their intellectual abilities is the way to improve their performance.

His hypothesis assumes that conventional conceptions of intelligence and learning are too narrow. Multisensory learning suggests that humans have various weaknesses and strengths and that educators should teach in a way that corresponds to their intellectual strengths. 

Decades of study, namely Gardner's hypothesis of multiple intelligences, justify the multisensory learning approach. Schools depend largely on logical-mathematical intelligence and linguistics while instructing reading methods and other academic abilities. 

Teachers that use multiple intelligence tactics to teach academic abilities often see that their children comprehend topics better and retain more information over time. However, reading techniques for young children might be more successful if their strengths are included.

Taking advantage of multisensory learning and the principle of multiple intelligences is an ideal method to assist all your children in studying in a manner that works to their strengths. Using multiple intelligences in the classroom, attempt to connect your lesson ideas to at least two distinct types of sensory techniques and bits of intelligence. 

You may teach your children an alphabet song, for instance. In addition to combining linguistic bits of intelligence and musical, this would stimulate your children's aural and visual senses while learning about letters.

Multisensory activity examples that help boost children’s engagements


Employing multisensory activities to impart reading skills may help engage children, especially if you are teaching children who struggle with reading. Here are some of the reading activities involving multiple senses you can try.

1. Read it, build it, write it

This practice is ideal for teaching irregular words or Red Words (such as "said" or "does"). Children must be able to grasp and recognize the anomalies in the spelling of these words.

Children receive a piece of paper containing three boxes labeled "Read It," "Build It," and "Write It" for this assignment. 

Each child also receives flashcards pre-printed with Red Words, block letters or magnetic, and a writing instrument. The "Read It" box will include an odd word that the children and the instructor will read. 

Children can recognize a word's irregularity with the instructor's aid. Determine what is unusual about the spelling pattern. 

Children will use magnetic letters to construct the word they have just read in the "Build It" box. Once the learner has correctly constructed the word, they write it in the "Write It" box.

2. Air writing



Through "muscle memory," air writing (also known as skywriting) emphasizes the sound each letter produces. It also reinforces letter shapes that are often confused, such as “b” and “d.” 

Children will write these words in the air using two fingers as a pointer while maintaining straight elbows and wrists. They will pronounce the sound of each letter as they write it.

Encourage children to visualize the letter while writing it. They may even pretend to write in a certain hue.

3. Writing in shaving cream/sand

This multisensory method reinforces the letter-sound relationship via audio, visual, and tactile pathways. Instructors may prepare sand or shaving cream using plastic trays, cookie sheets, paper plates, tables, or other containers in advance. 

The instructor shouts out a familiar sound. The learner repeats the sound, then uses their index and middle fingers to write the letter that creates that sound while verbally identifying the letter and its sound. When children write with their fingertips, they reach hundreds of nerve endings that transmit patterns to the brain.

Choose phonetic terms with predictable spelling patterns if you use this method for full words instead of individual letters.

4. Tapping out sounds



Children deconstruct and mix word sounds by tapping each sound with their thumb and finger. Tapping allows children to sense and listen to how sounds are split and combined to form words. The Wilson Reading Program was the pioneer of this method. 

Consider the word “bat.” Children touch their index fingers while pronouncing the “b” sound. Then, while pronouncing the short sound, they touch their middle finger. 

And they touch their ring finger while pronouncing the letter “t.” Then, they combine the sounds to form the word bat.

5. Shared reading

Children will participate in or take turns reading a book with you in this activity. They may engage with the material by circling long or short vowels or underlining sight words. They will also follow along while you read aloud or as they listen to the audiobook version.

For collaborative reading, children may use printable books. For example, they may write in sight words or create illustrations like pictures to fit phrases in printable books.

6. Word building



Children can construct words using tiles or magnetic letters. The Barton Reading System uses color-coded tiles to help children associate sounds and letters. Additionally, children use magnetic letters with vowels in one hue and consonants in another.

Children articulate each letter's sound as they write it. Then, after constructing the word, they read it aloud.

7. Blending boards

Children use blending boards to develop segmenting and mixing sounds into syllables. It helps children prepare to decode multisyllabic words. IMSE blending boards can accommodate up to three enormous stacks of cards, including individual letters, digraphs, and blends.

They are arranged in consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) order on the board. The instructor lays their palm over each card as children identify each sound. The instructor then moves a hand over all the letters as the children say the syllable or word.

If children have difficulty with the CVC pattern, test the VC pattern instead. Beginning with a continuous sound instead of a stopped sound is also beneficial for challenging children.

8. Sandpaper letters

Sandpaper letters help children maintain a tactile (touch) recall of letters and corresponding sounds. Children draw each letter with their fingertips while pronouncing its pronunciation aloud. As they write, they can feel the contour of the letters.

Additionally, children can use sandpaper letters to spell out a star or sight words. Then, they place a large sheet of ordinary paper on top and color the letters like a "gravestone rubbing."

Partnering with families 

Sharing sensory activities with families is a great way to partner together for a strong home-to-school connection. You can download a free copy of our preschool daily report template to keep families up-to-date on their child’s day and fun sensory activities to try at home. 

Download our free preschool daily sheet - brightwheel

Download our free preschool daily report template here!

Final thoughts

A multisensory approach is a method of teaching that incorporates more than one sense. Children often depend on sight to see text and images and read the information when they learn. On the other hand, most children depend on their ears to comprehend what the instructor is saying.

Multisensory instruction extends beyond reading and hearing; not all lessons will incorporate all five senses (hearing, smell, sight, taste, touch, and movement). Instead, it attempts to appeal to every sense. 

As children participate in multisensory learning, multiple senses are engaged, improving their ability to understand and retain new information.


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