Multisensory learning and the future of teaching

Learning is sometimes a difficult task and whether we realize it or not, we are trained to learn. From early on, we learned from reading to watch, by watching TV or by memorizing. We also learned from examples and experience. An old Chinese proverb says, “Tell me and I will forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.” It is with these sentiments that I will discuss the benefits of multisensory learning.

How many times have you sat in a classroom where you got bored? Think back to your many years in elementary school, middle school, or high school. What is the learning like? Did the teacher stand in front of the class and lecture while you were trying to absorb the material? Was taking notes as interactive as it gets? As society gets more advanced with technology and kids are bombarded with more information from more sources, much of it on demand, my opinion is that teaching strategies will need to evolve.

Multisensory learning provides the student with an opportunity to associate something with memory by experiencing it. Reading about baking cake is not nearly as fruitful as actually baking. The child learns about ingredients and how they feel and smell. They learn how to mix, how long the cake takes to bake and how it smells when it’s done. They also learn how great it tastes. Tactile learners or children with disabilities get the chance to learn the same material as a child who can learn easily by just reading. Gifted children will not get bored because they will also be involved in the learning process. Multisensory learning is the gateway towards improving the learning process for all children.

Each lesson should include practical experience. If the lesson is about fractions, let the children play with plastic pies with slices to understand them. If the lesson is about writing, play games that allow students to learn about better writing techniques. Use the computer and online resources to take learning to a new level where they can see, hear and interact. Consider the potential of touch screens in education, as a child can easily move objects back and forth on the screen and learn in the process.

Today’s students are internet savvy and they are aware of on-demand learning. Many classrooms today still try to push information when they should be engaging the student, essentially drawing the student into the lesson. The benefits of multisensory learning are better comprehension, better retention, and a more inclusive learning environment that takes into account differences in students’ abilities. To succeed, teachers must engage their students by creating learning environments that tap into all of a student’s senses.

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