A multi-sensory approach to learning may be the element you’ve been missing
We all learn better when we engage more than one of our senses in our learning with us. This goes double when you are trying to teach a child with special needs. Try using a multi-sensory approach! Helping them learn with their entire body, will make learning more fun, and will help them grasp concepts faster. One example of this is to employ different senses when teaching a child to write.
Each child is different, so the senses that you use will have to be effective ones for them. Understanding your child’s sensory profile is an important step in this. Once you have determined what senses will aid best in learning, it is time to put your thinking cap on! Here are some ideas in a couple of different sensory areas to get you started! (You can also find a lot of great ideas on my Writing Pinterest board.)
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- Fill a zippy bag with paint, pudding, or some other squishy substance. This helps cut down the mess for you, but still gives them some fun tactile input while then “draw” letters in the slime.
- Squirt shaving cream on a flat surface for their little fingers. This involves them in some messy learning!
- Rolling play dough to form into letters and shapes can help them stay engaged in learning.
- Take a squirt gun outside and “draw” letters on the sidewalk. It’s a great way to get them outside as well as get some proprioceptive input while they learn.
- Place a paper in front of them and then put them on top of an exercise ball and roll them forward by holding on to their feet. Have them draw one part of a letter. Roll them back and then forward again. Each time they go forward, they draw another part of the letter or a different letter.
- If they really have a hard time with not getting enough of this input to stay still long-term, look into a weighted lap blanket or a compression vest.
- Wearing different tinted glasses and sunglasses while writing can help. It engages them in writing more if they need more visual input.
- Using Letter School App is a great visual tool for helping to learn to write letters.
- Writing with puffy paint or glitter glue is also a fun way for them to be more visually stimulated while writing.
Something to get you started with a multi-sensory approach
I created printable files for creating a handwriting binder that helps your child learn to form letters by first building them with foam pieces and them move on to writing them with dry erase markers. You can read all about how I use my binder here and get your own copy to start!
Don’t forget that your child has specific and individual needs. If something you try fails miserably, don’t give up! Try something new until you find what works for him or her.
More about Mary Winfield
Mary is the media manager and blog editor at SPED Homeschool and blogs about special needs parenting and homeschooling at www.growingastheygrow.com. She is the mom to 2 rambunctious toddlers who are more dirt than boys most of the time. In addition, she is an avid reader and loves to write in many genres. She especially loves connecting with other moms so she can learn from them and maybe even offer a little help in return. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.
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