Our multi-sensory approach is an evidence-based teaching method. It is a structured, systematic, reading, spelling and math program that is based on phonemic awareness and alphabetic code knowledge.
The approach focuses on irregular and high frequency words, using concrete materials for mathematics with an emphasis on strategy instruction rather than rule memorisation.
What is the rationale?
Students with dyslexia often exhibit weaknesses in underlying language skills involving speech sound (phonological) and print (orthographic) processing, and in building brain pathways that connect speech to print.
The brain pathways used for reading and spelling must develop to connect the many areas and transmit information with speed and accuracy. Most students with dyslexia have weak phonemic awareness, meaning they are unaware of the role sounds play within words. This will cause difficulty with rhyming words, blending sounds to make words, or segmenting words into sounds.
Because of their trouble establishing associations between sounds and symbols, dyslexic students will also have trouble learning to recognise words automatically (“by sight”) or fast enough to allow comprehension (reading for meaning). If students are not accurate with sounds or symbols, they will have trouble forming memories for common words, even the “little” words in students’ books.
Our students need specialised instruction to master the alphabetic code, ample learning opportunities to build fluency and practice to achieve mastery.
What are the principles?
- Simultaneous, multi-sensory (VAKT): Teaching uses all learning pathways in the brain (i.e., visual, auditory, kinesthetic-tactile) simultaneously or sequentially in order to enhance memory and learning.
- Systematic and Cumulative: multi-sensory language instruction requires that the organisation of material follows the logical order of the language. The sequence must begin with the easiest and most basic concepts and progress methodically to more difficult material. Each concept must also be based on those already learned. Concepts taught must be systematically reviewed to strengthen memory.
- Direct Instruction: The inferential learning of any concept cannot be taken for granted. Multi-sensory language instruction requires direct teaching of all concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction.
- Diagnostic Teaching: The teacher must be adept at flexible or individualised teaching. The teaching plan is based on careful and continuous assessment of the individual’s needs. The content presented must be mastered step by step for the student to progress.
- Synthetic and Analytic Instruction: Multi-sensory, 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 component parts.
- Comprehensive and Inclusive: All levels of language are addressed, often in parallel, including sounds (phonemes), symbols (graphemes), meaningful word parts (morphemes), word and phrase meanings (semantics), sentences (syntax), longer passages (discourse), and the social uses of language (pragmatics).