Multisensory Instruction: A Unique Way to Develop Reading Skills
Exciting, sometimes challenging, often thrilling—Learning to read is a significant milestone in every young student’s life.
By engaging multiple senses simultaneously, multisensory teaching techniques are effective for helping eager and shy readers alike gain fluency and confidence in their abilities.
All students learn in unique ways, and multisensory learning enables students to find the techniques they best connect with. These individualized strategies help students gain a memory of a targeted skill or process. They are also easy to incorporate at home with parents, who can use sight, hearing, movement, and touch to engage their children and help develop their reading skills.
To encourage the practice of letter sounds and blending, dive into sand trays or shaving cream. Parents can take a tray or a small cardboard box, fill it with colored sand or shaving cream, and have their child practice writing letters and words in the sand or cream. As your child uses their finger to write a letter, they say the sound each letter makes. If it is a full word, students can then blend the sounds together and read the whole word aloud. The physical touch reinforces what they are saying, along with the visual of reading the letters in the sand or shaving cream.
Students who are learning to decode and encode words benefit from practicing their word building. Turn to magnetic letters, or create your own letters out of construction paper. Color-coding the letters will help with engagement and memory: For instance, vowels can be blue, while consonants are red. Children should say each letter’s sound as they put the letter down. After building the complete word, they then read it aloud.
Meanwhile, tapping is a helpful technique for students learning how to read and spell. Students break down and blend word sounds by tapping out each sound with their fingers and thumb. They stretch the word to hear each sound and tap it out on their finger. Take the word “sit”: Students tap their finger to their thumb and say the s sound, then tap their finger to their thumb as they say the short I sound. And they tap their finger to their thumb as they say the t sound. Then they put the sounds together to say sit.
Depending on the child’s level, these techniques can be used for letter recognition, letter sounds, practicing sight words or when learning basic words with a consonant-vowel-consonant pattern.
Reading to your child is one of the best ways to improve their reading skills and create wonderful readers. Your child can also share reading time with you! They can follow along as you read, and you can read aloud together.
Story sticks are another fantastic way for a child to work on their comprehension skills. Using different colored popsicle sticks, write questions about story elements. A stick can ask your child to describe the characters, the setting, or plot—what happened in the beginning, middle or endo f the story. While you are reading together, your child will enjoy choosing a stick and answering the question in real-time.
Through these accessible and interactive multisensory learning experiences, your child will find themselves enjoying their new world of words in every area of their life!