In 2011 I graduated with my master’s degree from Boston College and a passion for teaching young children. I never could have guessed, over a decade ago, that my path to where I am today would involve leaving a career in teaching to gain clarity on how I could best use my gifts to serve others. I never could have guessed that leaving teaching would be the first of many steps to finding my way back.
Affter a decade inside of the elementary classroom, I decided to take a step back from teaching to realign myself with my goals. In July of 2020, I created Next Step Education as the answer to supporting parents and children during pandemic learning. I saw an incredible need for support and wanted to use my love of teaching and of children to offer meaningful service during a ‘different’ kind of learning year.
Over the past year I have had the privilege of working with elementary children of all ages. From homework support to curriculum supplementation and extension, I have helped boost confidence, momentum and ultimately success in my all my students. My goal is always to keep the JOY in learning and help each child feel proud of the work they do.
I saw many struggling readers hitting a wall when it came to progressing and without a clear solution to the problem, I sought support to gain the strategies and tools to support these students.
I was recently trained as an Orton-Gillingham specialist by the Institute of Multi-Sensory Education and was enlightened by this work to learn the significant positive impact that multi-sensory education can have on a child’s academic development. The sequential, systematic and multi-sensory approach to literacy helps engage and motivate children who struggle to read by engaging as many senses as possible to connect to this approach based in the science of reading.
One powerful example of multi-sensory learning that I discovered was the impact of using tactile methods to improve literacy development. Children have 10,000 nerve endings in their fingertips. For example, by using their fingers to practice spelling words in the sand, they are more likely to be both engaged at the time of learning, as well as remember proper spelling because they are engaging more than one sense at a time.
Hands-on learning is not only engaging, but it is scientifically proven to improve student’s learning by incorporating audio and visual senses, but also kinesthetic and tactile senses as well.
These help children to rewire their brains by engaging them in multi-sensory learning. The pencil and paper methods are no longer effective in meeting the needs of all learners. If we want to support all children in finding success, we must be willing to be flexible in our methods of how we reach all learners in front of us.
We need to help children access the code of literacy more efficiently, and for some students, this hands-on, multi-sensory approach is essential. “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” At the end of the day, there isn’t (and there likely never will be!) a one-size-fits-all method to teaching children.
By incorporating a multi-sensory approach to learning, we, as teachers, parents, caregivers, are providing all children access points to education to help them be successful. Every child learns differently and by incorporating hands-on activities, they are given the opportunity to make meaning of their world by engaging their senses beyond just auditory and visual cues.
It’s our responsibility to provide children with the tools they need to be successful, while recognizing that that toolbox may look different to each child.
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