Updated: May 3, 2021
God created each of us with five basic senses: hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch. Each of our sense organs are intricately designed to transmit information to our brains. This is how we understand, interact with, and react to the world around us.
Though each of us seems to better process information through one of our senses, we achieve superior retention and understanding when we learn through all our senses. As a person integrates all his senses during the learning process, he will sharpen multi-sensory processing skills often necessary for learning more complex concepts later in life. Furthermore, the senses a person relies on less will develop and further become accustomed to work in combination with his other senses. And if senses are compromised, a person's brain can retrain to work with the other senses to fill in the gaps or even strengthen the weakened sense!
My oldest child is missing a chromosome in every cell of her body. This missing chromosome affects her heart, her eyesight, her stature, her limb proportions, and her endocrine system. The vision in one of her eyes is significantly impaired. Since glasses could only correct that eye’s vision to 20/60, her brain began relying on her stronger eye to see, letting her other eye “relax”. At age four, her ophthalmologist performed surgery to repair the amblyopia caused from this visual impairment and instructed us to retrain her brain by patching her eye with near-normal vision to encourage her to use her weaker eye while working on reading and fine motor skills. While she still wears glasses, her brain retrained to use both eyes. Even with a weakened eye and an inability to attain good depth perception, she has discovered new ways to identify depth by assessing the size of objects. What absolutely amazes me is that even though her sight is compromised, she has become a voracious reader with extraordinary writing and editing skills.
Here is an example of how you can help your child connect to information in a multi-sensory fashion:
If you show your child a picture of obsidian, he will see that it is shiny and dark. If you and your child research obsidian in an encyclopedia or on the internet, your child will learn that it is an extrusive igneous rock that is created when felsic lava from a volcano cools rapidly. He will also learn that obsidian is most commonly black. However, it can also be brown, tan, or green. Rarely it can be blue, red, orange, or yellow and sometimes several colors mixed. Additionally, your child will discover that obsidian is rich in silicon dioxide.
As you research obsidian and its uses, you and your child will discover that, historically, people skillfully broke obsidian to make knives, arrowheads, and many other useful weapons and tools. People also noticed that they could see a reflection in obsidian and would grind larger pieces to make flat highly polished surfaces that could be used as mirrors. In fact, obsidian was valued so much by ancient civilizations that they mined, transported, and traded it over great distances.
Today, obsidian can be used to produce a cutting edge that is thinner and sharper than the best surgical steel. Therefore, thin blades of obsidian are placed in surgical scalpels and used during surgeries.
To delve deeper into the study of obsidian and help your child comprehend what this rock is and its many uses, you can obtain a piece of obsidian. Observe it and ascertain if you can see any reflection. Grind and polish the surface to see if its reflective properties improve. Watch a YouTube video on how to make an arrowhead from obsidian (see a video on making an arrowhead from obsidian >>> here <<<). You can take your study of obsidian one step further by creating your own functional arrowhead.
After delving deeper and using all five senses to learn, your child will better retain the information. He can apply his newfound knowledge to develop future solutions. For example, such study may motivate him to delve into deeper study of other resources in our world to discover practical and helpful uses for various materials. Combined with experimentation, processes, and deductive reasoning, which are skills sharpened through science and math, a person can develop ever-new ways to use our earth’s resources to help others. The process learned in the simple study above can be applied through various platforms of learning throughout one’s life. For example, medical scientists in the pharmaceutical industry research resources, medical equipment, and complete clinical trials while biochemists study gene mutations and virus structure. Their combined efforts lead to medications that doctors can prescribe to help with various illnesses.
Whether your child is a gifted learner or a struggling learner, teach him with greater breadth and depth through multi-sensory learning. You will cultivate his curiosity, innovation, and imagination. You will sharpen his ability to think through possibilities and outcomes. Your child will become more confident throughout the learning process and develop a determination to learn more. Furthermore, when your child can connect to information in a variety of ways, he will better be able to conceptualize and apply his knowledge as he works through various concepts and scenarios in the future. As you teach your child with greater breadth and depth, maximizing your child's understanding and retention though his many senses, you will help your child see great value in learning!
Review: The advantages of multi-sensory learning in Homeschooling with Greater Depth (Part 2)
Learn what types of questions encourage deeper thinking and understanding in Homeschooling with Greater Depth (Part 3)
Discover five teaching techniques to cultivate critical thinking in Homeschooling with Greater Depth (Part 4).
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