What is Multisensory Learning (or AVK)?

istock_000001082166smallMultisensory learning happens when more than one sense is used to acquire and retain information.  Learning is typically categorized into three modes or types: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.

  • Auditory learners acquire information best when it is presented verbally- by listening. They succeed best when directions are read aloud, by listening to and giving speeches, and when information is presented and requested verbally.
  • Visual learners acquire information best when it is presented visually- by seeing. They succeed best when directions are written, by writing things down, and when information is presented in pictures, movies, diagrams and charts.
  • Kinesthetic learners acquire information best when it is presented in a way that can be touched and experienced- hands-on. They succeed best by participating in field trips, science labs, using manipulatives (blocks, felt, props), and by being actively involved in some type of activity.

Every person has a different learning style with one mode usually a strength, but we all usually learn best when information is presented using a combination of all three modes called Auditory-Visual-Kinesthetic (AVK) learning.

Sign language is not only a beautiful language, but a perfect complement to teaching children in a multisensory way because:

  • The auditory aspect of sign is when you say the word along with the sign. Of course, people who are deaf do not necessarily speak when they sign. But when using sign language with hearing children, using your voice along with the sign reinforces the sign through the auditory avenue.
  • The visual aspect of sign allows for words and concepts to be represented and discussed in a more tangible way with children. For example, the concept of wind. Wind is invisible, so how do you get this concept across to a child? With sign language, your hands provide a visual representation of wind which makes the invisible visible.
  • The kinesthetic aspect of sign is when the child makes the sign. Feeling how the sign is made creates additional avenues in the brain to connect the word with the concept.

By combining the auditory-visual-kinesthetic (AVK) aspects of sign language, you are giving your child three avenues to understand, remember, and recall information.  Once older, you will be able to determine which learning style (auditory, visual, or kinesthetic) is your child’s strength and can use that to maximize his potential.

Multisensory learning is especially useful for children diagnosed with a learning disability.  While commonly misunderstood, children with learning disabilities are actually of average intelligence -a requirement to qualify for the disorder.  These children just have a processing deficit that interferes with their learning.  By presenting information in a multisensory way, it greatly assists children with acquiring and retaining information, whether diagnosed with a learning disorder or not.

While sign language is not the only way to present information in a multisensory way, I believe it is an excellent starting point for babies and toddlers learning the foundation of language and for students who have a learning disability.

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31 Responses to “What is Multisensory Learning (or AVK)?”
  1. Justin says:

    We teach the Learning Styles to our apprentice servicemembers who are preparing to learn the trade/job that will take them through their career to a preferable good retirement or discharge when they are done. These students are mostly 18-25. We take them through an AVK Assessment and also guide them through understanding how those preferences can benefit them in the classroom and while studying. My question for you is this, Are there any scientific studies that prove AVK works? Do you know if there is a Instructional Wide reference that most people would lean towards when discussing AVK and it’s impact on the student, and the Adult Learner? Thank you for your time.

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  5. wookie says:

    Multisensory learning is not just for children with learning disabilities. Adults with learning disabilities can benefit as well using the same visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning modalities. Some forms of more esoteric psychology, such as neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and brain science also utilize this VAK method (as I learned it).

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