Start Young & Take a Multi-Sensory Approach to Teaching

Start Young & Take a Multi-Sensory Approach to Teaching

When your child is a baby, hold and cuddle them often. While you are walking around describe what you are seeing and when they are old enough or can reach out, have them feel what you are describing. Every time you have them touch something while you are describing, they are creating images in their mind about the world.

Vary your child's experiences. They need to help you clean the house, cook dinner, go shopping, go on trips, smell a cow yard, play in a garden, smell and eat at different restaurants, and so much more. By them grasping an item and you gently placing your hand over top, you can teach them how to stir, string beads, dig a hole and learn everything else there is to learn about their surroundings.

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If you hold your child often, tickle, and massage his different body parts while playing with him, he will have a greater chance of not being tactile defensive, which is where a child does not like to be touched but also does not like to touch things. If you start young and continue, the child learns that touch can be wonderful and that is how he is going to learn about the world. He must touch, smell, and hear…that is how he sees. In the book, The Brain that Changes itself" by Norman Doidge, he explains that when you integrate all the senses, they take over the visual cortex and images are created in the brain. For any child that has even a small issue in learning they will learn faster if you integrate all the senses. For a regular child with just blindness, they will just learn faster in general.

If a child can become aware of his own body, then he can place himself within the environment he is sitting or walking. He will learn how far away to stand from someone, he will be able to tell when a wall is approaching as he walks with his cane, because you can feel matter. Matter is any solid surface. If you are sighted, close your eyes and just start talking and walking toward a wall. You can feel the wall approach, through the sound of your voice bouncing off the wall and the "feel" of the wall on your skin as you approach. We need to teach our blind children that matter has substance and as they walk with a cane, they will be able to steer around any object because they will feel themselves approach it. They can also use echolocation, which is sound bouncing off matter. Hard-soled shoes are a great way to get sound to bounce of walls without anyone being aware of what you are doing as you walk. You may notice some children clicking their tongues. They have figured echolocation out, but everyone around them think they are doing something odd. They are just using the sound to bounce off walls to figure out where to go.

If your child has any vision at all, use a light box and let them choose the light level. Then place objects and colors on top of the light box so they can get a better idea of what it looks like. Next, have them pull off the object, close their eyes and just feel it. When you take sight away, touch and hearing kick in and their focus in on what they are feeling, not what their poor vision is trying to incorrectly see. In this manner, of no sight when they touch, they put it together with what they saw and have a truer idea of fact versus something off of poor vision. In this way, their world becomes alive, but more importantly, if the child loses any more sight, he will have learned how to put a 1 dimensional brailled object on paper into a 3 dimensional world because of all the "vision games and practice" with the closing of the eyes and touching after. Learning his colors, numbers and letters, will also be accessible in his knowledge bank, because of these "games" early on.

There are many wonderful web sites out there that give even more activities to do with your child. The biggest thing, incorporate everything, describe the world as you walk and let them touch, smell and listen and you will have a well-developed child, understanding the world. Now, incorporate the academics and you will have a child that can achieve anything he desires.

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