What is Multisensory Approach to Reading?

All parents understand the importance of reading; however, all children do not learn to read the same way and in the same time frame. Many parents rely on schools to teach their child to read, but it is not uncommon for children to struggle. Additionally, a Winston-Salem Journal article shares that 600 third graders in Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools failed to pass a reading test. So it’s not surprising that many students could benefit from the multisensory approach to reading. Here’s what you need to know:

What is multisensory teaching?

Multi-sensory teaching is simultaneously visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile to enhance memory and learning. Links are consistently made between the visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and kinesthetic-tactile (what we feel) pathways in learning to read and spell.

Who can benefit from this approach?

All students can benefit from multisensory learning. Every child processes information differently, and this teaching method allows for each child to use a variety of their senses to understand and process information. We recommend it for pre-kindergarten to third grade students.

Is this approach for children with learning differences?

Yes, multisensory techniques are frequently used for children with learning differences. Studies from the National Institute of Child Health and Human development have shown that for children with difficulties in learning to read, a multisensory teaching method is the most effective teaching method.

How does this approach help reading?

Multisensory techniques are used to promote better retention as students are taught the phonetic codes of the language. This approach is much easier than having to memorize thousands of words by sight. The 42 basic sounds and the letters that represent them are taught one at a time in building block fashion. Daily drill on the sounds and plenty of word decoding practice help master this foundation.

How is it different from other approaches?

It is diagnostic as it involves constant testing and reflection on the knowledge of the student. It is systematic and seeks to unite the components of written language. Thus it treats sound-symbol knowledge, oral language (grammar and pronunciation), written language conventions and handwriting in an organized and integrated fashion.

How does this approach develop skills?

Multisensory teaching techniques and strategies stimulate learning by engaging students on multiple levels. They encourage students to use some or all their senses to:

  • Gather information about a task
  • Link information to ideas they already know and understand
  • Perceive the logic involved in solving problems
  • Learn problem solving tasks
  • Tap into nonverbal reasoning skills
  • Understand relationships between concepts
  • Store information and store it for later recall


How do students respond to this approach?

Teaching and learning in this way is an exciting journey of discovery. It is a fast paced and creative process where learning is fun since each small step is mastered and the learner is aware of what they have gained. Confidence is built through growing mastery of written language.

If you’d like to learn more about multisensory approach to reading, please contact us. We offer classes and individual tutoring. For multisensory activities, visit our Pinterest board.

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