Multisensory Learning

January 15, 2015

Multisensory learning simply means learning by using as many senses as possible.  Seeing and hearing (visual and auditory) are the senses traditionally used for learning.  The other sense that can be very effective for learning is touch.  Touch can be separated into tactile (the touch and feel of something) and kinesthetic (muscle memory from movement).  Most people learn best and retain information the longest if they learn that information through as many different senses as possible.

Teaching with visual and auditory methods is still very important.  The point is to teach the same thing using all four of visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic.  You could even throw in taste and smell, but they can be more difficult to incorporate into lessons!

Visual: Reading a textbook, chalkboard or Smart board. Seeing a picture or diagram.

Auditory: Listening to a teacher or lecturer.

Visual and auditory together: Watching a video, demonstration or play

Tactile: Handling and manipulating a model, feeling the texture of something with your fingers or feeling your throat as your voice pronounces a letter.

Kinesthetic: Doing an action by moving your gross (e.g., whole arm) or fine (e.g., fingers) motor systems, participating in a role play, doing an interactive experiment. Kinesthetic learning is often reputed to be the most powerful way to remember something. Your muscles never forget: “You never forget how to ride a bicycle!”

With multisensory learning, teachers present new material in as many different ways as is practical, so that children take in the information through multiple senses and have a better chance to learn the material.

Phonics vs. Whole Language