Aug 012013

Multisensory Math Instruction for kids with learning disabilities can make learning math possible.

Have you considered multisensory math for teaching your child?

Using Multisensory Teaching to teach your child Math concepts through auditory, visual, and hands-on learning is proven by research to improve learning.

This is particularly true for children with math-based learning disabilities like dyscalculia.

Almost all programs teaching math for kids are text-based, auditory style programs. Remember, reading is an auditory activity, not a visual activity because reading involves words processed as language. Reading is not visual image processing.

Some programs teaching math for kids appeal to visual learners. They include many drawings, graphs, pie charts, and other visual images.

Many computer-based math for kids programs are simply text-on-screen applications of common textbook teaching. Like books, some computer programs have multimedia elements and may include graphics and / or audio.

For true multisensory math instruction, you’d want to use visual, auditory, kinesthetic AND tactile learning activities. Using all of them at the same time is what makes for multisensory math instruction.

Options for Multisensory Math Instruction:

Math-U-See (MUS) is a great multisensory, hands on math program. MUS teaches through demonstration videos or DVDs, manipulatives, and workbooks. MUS provides auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning components. It is one of the few comprehensive math curricula that is fully multisensory.

TouchMath is another great option for multisensory math instruction. The program has been developed over several years and is proven to be effective through research.  Although the program says it is for K-3rd, if your child is older and still needs to work on basic math concepts, I would highly recommend using this program for mastery of the basic math concepts.

Other multisensory math instruction programs that use manipulatives (Base 10, ETA Hand2mind (Formerly Cuisenaire), etc.) have workbooks and manipulatives. However it lacks auditory/visual demonstrations and does not cover all mathematics concepts from basic number skills up through complex math reasoning. The programs have books on various math concepts, but not all topics are available.

Like multisensory reading curriculums, almost any math curriculum can be adapted to use multisensory methods. Adaptation will be a lot easier if you look for a visually rich curriculum with a lot of images and graphics. If you have the text and images, you can read aloud, and use math manipulatives to demonstrate concepts.

For kinesthetic activities, you can use rhythmic dance, clapping chants, gathering sticks or stones, or other objects for manipulatives, etc.

Certain math concepts, such as measurements or money, are easy to make into multisensory math instruction activities. You can teach measuring skills by using recipes and baking with your child. You can play “store” with paper money to learn money skills.

If your child is a kinesthetic or visual learner, you’ll want to introduce concepts with hands-on, visual activities, then hit the books.

If your child is an auditory learner, you can read the books, then explore concepts with manipulatives. Either way, it is always most effective to teach through multiple channels to aid understanding and retention.

Check out our additional information about multisensory math curricula for homeschooling your learning abled kid. You may want to pay particular attention to our information about homeschooling children with dycalculia or “math dyslexia”.

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Aug 012013

Teaching methods for providing multisensory reading instruction to your child:

First, think of a ‘language triangle’ which emphasizes the simultaneous linking of auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile pathways (Post, 2003).

Using multisensory teaching methods involves having your child see the letters, phonemes, or words, while saying the sounds represented by the letters, phonemes, or words.

In addition multisensory teaching methods include simultaneously using a kinesthetic / tactile tracing action to write out the letters, phonemes or words. Your child will act on all three pathways simultaneously.

It is an important teaching method to teach the visual element (the letter(s) or word) as a representation of its auditory sound. In other words, it is important to teach letter sounds, rather than letter names for the purposes of reading instruction.

As an example of multisensory teaching methods used for reading instruction, your child will see an “S”. Then your child will say the sound of “S”, written as /s/, and would vocalize /s/.

When your child said /s/ (auditory), she would also trace the shape of an “S” on the carpet with her bare feet (tactile), or use large, full arm movements to write a huge “S” on a chalkboard (kinesthetic).

As she traced the shape of the “S”, she would see it, which would add in the visual component. She would feel it with her bare foot, and as she says the sound aloud, she’ll hear it.

Almost any specific, sequential, reading instruction program can be made into a multisensory program by using teaching methods that include auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile activities added to the instruction.

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