Multi-sensory Reading Programs

How will a multi-sensory reading program benefit my child?

Scientific evidence reveals that reading is the combination of five critical components: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.  Teaching students to read requires instruction in all of these components. Multi-sensory reading programs are effective with students through their explicit and systematic instruction. This approach teaches students phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension through multi-sensory instruction.  This multi-sensory approach includes visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile learning styles. Students benefit from Orton-Gilingham based programs because students internalize these critical components that increase their decoding skills, word attack, fluency, and comprehension skills to become fluent readers.  

Research supports that a literacy program should include instruction in  phonemic awareness. This multi-sensory approach to phonemic awareness instruction is based on research that maximizes growth in phonemic awareness skills. Research from the National Reading Panel Report has found that the use of letter/sound manipulation is beneficial for all students rather than receiving no instruction in letters. Furthermore, Shaywitz found that the use of letters with reference to sound help students in the skill of reading.  Multi-sensory programs teach letters with sounds to help students learn how to manipulate and segment sounds.

Phonemic awareness is taught using blending, segmentation, and manipulation of individual sounds, and is integrated into phonics and spelling instruction. Students use a finger tapping procedure to aid in segmenting and blending words. As students progress through the programs, instruction shifts from emphasizing phoneme segmentation to emphasizing syllable segmentation/division, and applying that skill to the structure of the words being studied.

Phonics instruction in multi-sensory reading programs is explicit and systematic. Students are directly taught the letter–sound correspondence in the written form of the English language. This literacy approach aligns with recent research demonstrating that students in the primary grades make stronger gains when provided with direct phonics instruction.  The students with reading deficits from these primary grades most definitely need phonics instruction. The research studies demonstrates that interventions that emphasize both phonics instruction and provided opportunities to apply phonics skills when reading connected text have the most impact on students with reading disabilities and struggling readers.  

The research constantly mentions fluency being the greatest predictor of reading comprehension.  Orton-Gillingham based programs have adopted fluency instruction strategies to increase the text reading fluency of students. Poor readers may have difficulty in silent reading because they may not be able to group phrases which then compromise meaning to support comprehension of the passage.  Also, many students lack syntactic awareness which enables students to phrase appropriately. Prosody helps readers chunk text into syntactically appropriate units that assist them in constructing meaning. In multi-sensory reading programs, students have opportunities to work on this skill with a passage that is controlled to have words they should be able to decode. Students are directly taught a penciling technique to chunk text into meaningful phrases, and practice fluently reading connected texts with accuracy, automaticity, and prosody.

Additionally, the research states that struggling readers have difficulties in comprehension when needing to learn new vocabulary.   Multi-sensory reading programs incorporate many opportunities for students to build vocabulary and comprehension. Vocabulary is taught directly and with distributed practice. First, students are taught the meaning of select words. The selection of these words is based on Beck, et al.’s research on vocabulary instruction. Next, students have ample opportunities to practice reading and use vocabulary words across different contexts, which helps foster a deeper understanding of words’ meanings and students’ memory of them.  

The ultimate goal of reading is comprehension. Comprehension strategies are taught explicitly. Comprehension instruction within multi-sensory reading programs is based on research that describes the behaviors of good and poor readers.  This instruction impacts one’s ability to comprehend. These strategies address both reading and listening comprehension instruction, and incorporate instruction in visualization strategies, guided close reading, and oral language instruction.

Language to Literacy specializes in multi-sensory reading programs. In addition to one-on-one and small group in person multi-sensory reading instruction, Language to Literacy also delivers multi-sensory reading instruction virtually. Language to Literacy utilizes a website called Whizzimo and the on-line video conferencing platform, Zoom. Contact Language to Literacy at to voice your literacy concerns and schedule your first session. We are here to improve your child’s reading!

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