Is your child with Dyslexia struggling to learn to read despite receiving special education services? Have you heard that a multisensory reading program might be appropriate for your child? Do you wonder what a multisensory reading program teach? This article will discuss what multisensory reading programs are, the principles of instruction, and what specific skills that they teach.
Studies from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development have shown that for children with difficulties learning to read, a multisensory teaching method is the most effective teaching method. This is especially crucial for a child with dyslexia.
A multisensory teaching approach means helping a child to learn through more than one of the senses at a time. According to the International Dyslexia Association: The Principles of Instruction are;
- Simultaneous Multisensory which means that teaching is done using all learning pathways in the brain (visual, auditory, kinesthetic/tactile).
- Systematic and Cumulative which means Multisensory language instruction requires that the organization of material follows the logical order of the brain. Each step must also be based on those already learned.
- Direct Instruction: The learning of any concept cannot be taken for granted. Multisensory language instruction requires the direct teaching of all concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction.
- Diagnostic Teaching means that the teacher must be adept at individualized teaching. The teaching plan is based on the careful and continuous assessment of the child’s needs. The content presented must be mastered to the degree of automaticity.
- Synthetic and Analytic Instruction: Multisensory, structured language programs include both synthetic and analytic instruction. Synthetic instruction presents the parts of the language and then teaches how the parts work together to form a whole. Analytic instruction presents the whole and teaches how this can be broken down into its parts.
According to LD online and The International Dyslexia Association: A multisensory reading program teaches the following:
- Phonology and phonological awareness. Phonology is the study of sounds and how they work together. Phonological awareness is the understanding of the linguistic structure of words. An important aspect of phonological awareness is phonemic awareness or the ability to segment words into their component sounds.
- Sound Symbol association. This is the knowledge of the various sounds in the English language and their correspondence to the letters and combinations of letters which represent those sounds. Sound-symbol association must be taught in two directions: visual and auditory and auditory to visual. Students must also learn the blending of sounds and letters into words as well as the segmenting of whole words into the individual sounds.
- Syllable instruction. A syllable is a unit of oral or written language with one vowel sound. Instruction must include teaching of the six basic syllable types in the English language: closed, vowel-consonant-e, open, consonant-le,r-controlled, and diphthong.
- Morphology is the study of how morphemes are combined from words. The curriculum must include the study of base words, roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
- Syntax is the set of principles that dictate the sequence and function of words in a sentence in order to convey meaning. This includes grammar, sentence variation and the mechanics of language.
- Semantics is that aspect of language concerned with meaning. The curriculum must include instruction in the comprehension of written language.
Helene Goldnadel is of the view that children with reading disabilities and dyslexia can both benefit from a multisensory reading program and teaching style. By understanding what a multisensory reading program is and how it is effective in teaching children to read, you can fight for one for your child.