What is multisensory instruction?

At a glance

  • With multisensory instruction, kids use more than one sense at a time.

  • Many reading programs for struggling readers use multisensory teaching methods.

  • Multisensory instruction gives kids more than one way to make connections and learn concepts.

Multisensory instruction is a way of teaching that engages more than one sense at a time.

When kids learn, they often rely on sight to look at text and pictures and to read information. Many kids also rely on hearing to listen to what the teacher is saying.

Multisensory teaching isn’t limited to reading and listening. Instead, it tries to use all the senses. Not every lesson will use all five senses (taste, smell, touch, sight, hearing, and movement). But in most multisensory lessons, kids engage with the material in more than one way.

For example, say a class is studying apples. Kids might have the chance to visually examine, touch, smell, and taste apples — instead of just reading and listening to their teacher speak about how they grow. Then they might hold a halved apple and count the number of seeds inside, one by one.

That’s multisensory teaching. It conveys information through things like touch and movement — called tactile and kinesthetic elements — as well as sight and hearing.

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