Multisensory instruction is a powerful alternative to standard practices for teaching reading. Especially for children with dyslexia and other reading disabilities, multisensory methods open up a new world of opportunity on the road to literacy and education. Triton takes a multisensory approach to instruction, and coaches parents on how they can incorporate these simple strategies at home.
Literacy involves the use of two key cognitive functions: orthographic processing and phonological awareness. Let’s dive into what roles these functions play, and how a multisensory approach strengthens them.
This function also contributes to the ability to know how many sounds are in a word, how many syllables are in a word and what each syllable sounds like, and how many words are in a sentence. Read more here about phonological awareness.
Phonemic awareness, part of phonological awareness, is the ability to distinguish individual sounds within words and hear the differences between them. For example, some sounds that are commonly confused are -ch and -sh, or the short vowel sounds for i and e. This also helps a child identify singular sounds within words and being able to manipulate the sounds. This ability to hear the differences in sounds will help them sound out new words.
Awareness of sounds is not the only skill we need to read. Given that only one third of all words in the English language are phonetic, it would not only be arduous to sound them all out, it would be impossible. Hence, literacy cannot happen without strong orthographic processing.
This is the ability to create mental representations of letters, and therefore recognize whole words upon sight. This process is essentially what we would call visual memory. Visual memory is essential to reading fluency. Students who struggle with reading fluency may struggle to recognize common words that cannot be sounded out, such as you, of, what, come, etc. Imagine the difficulty with reading if every time you saw a word, it felt like the first time!
“Students with weak orthographic processing will rely heavily on sounding out very common words that should be in memory, leading to a choppy, halting style of decoding sometimes called “spit-and-grunt” decoding. They will likely confuse simple words like ‘it’ and ‘on’, and may not be able to apply their knowledge of root words to decode a variation of the word. The student’s ability to image individual letters is linked to orthographic processing as well. If the shape and orientation of a letter is not firmly rooted in the student’s visual memory, she may reverse letters and not notice that they look wrong.” (Applied Learning Processes)
So let’s get down to how we can strengthen these processes with multisensory learning. Here are some methods Triton uses in instruction that parents can easily try at home!
Students employ this practice to aid in visual memory. They “write” the letters to a word in the air, imagining what each letter looks like. The child says each letter as they write it. A modified form of this for students just starting to practice imagining letters and words, they can write with their finger on a surface, such as a table or wall. Airwriting can be done by spelling out the letters to a given word, or writing given letters and then saying the word they spell.
Sand or shaving cream writing
This practice is great for so many reasons. Not only does it make reading a game, it involves a tactile component to word formation. Children write out letters in sand or shaving cream on a baking sheet, saying the sound for each letter, then saying the whole word at the end. This is a fantastic technique for children who show anxiety or resistance when it comes to reading. It can be presented as just messing around for fun without any pressure to “get it right”; after all, it’s just sand! It can easily be wiped away!
Writing letters on sandpaper adds a tactile component to letter imagery. Adding the tactile component solidifies the mental imagery of the letter they write. For very young children, using a letter stencil on a piece of paper can help guide them fingers in the letter formation.
Letter tiles or magnets help children build basic words. Rather than simply giving the child a word and asking them to read it, children build their own words, which provides them more variety and simplicity. These words do not have to be real. Practicing word chains with a single change, such as fă, tă, să, dă, yă, allows a child to focus on only one letter while still blending sounds together. One-letter changes can be necessary for very young or severe students.
Learn more here about multisensory techniques your child can practice!
Triton’s multisensory approach to teaching reading uses simple and effective techniques that really work! One of the best parts about Triton’s instruction is that parents are at the center of growth! Through consistent parent coaching, these practices can be applied effectively at home for lasting transformation!
If you have a child who needs intervention, fill out this form to get started!