Answers to specific questions

24th February 1995 at 00:00
Multi-Sensory Learning Unit 1, PJ and AL Attwood. Includes manual, reader, worksheets and games Pounds 200, Multi-Sensory Learning, 34 Nene Valley Business Park, Oundle, PE8 4HL

What specialised teaching is being provided for my child?" This is a question that many special educational needs coordinators will have faced from parents of children who have been assessed as having dyslexia or specific learning difficulties. Multi-Sensory Learning is a highly-structured, multi-sensory, phonic programme which sets out to provide an answer.

The programme is available in four units (Unit 2 will be launched at the Education Show and Units 3 and 4 will be available later in the year). It is claimed the complete course will enable a competent teacher to help pupils who have virtually no literacy skills to reach acceptable levels of reading and writing within two years, based on two one-hour lessons a week in a group of no more than three pupils.

The materials are sold as a complete course. The approach and much of the structure used in these materials are derived and adapted from the Hickey multisensory language course, a "course reader" for those intending to teach the course.

The assessment materials are a series of simple tests designed to establish pupils' levels of literacy and areas of strengths and weaknesses. The teacher's manual provides a comprehensive guide to the materials and how to use them on a lesson-by-lesson basis.

There are lots of helpful hints and explanatory notes about the sorts of difficulties that children may experience with particular skills, how to teach the skills and the key teaching points for each lesson. There is an overview of the 100 key phonic skills taught through the course, which can be checked off as pupils master each skill.

The teacher's manual certainly provides a very useful reference for anyone who wants to teach a highly-structured, phonics-based, multi-sensory, literacy programme, and the worksheets and materials provide you with everything you need to deliver this programme to the pupils.

Multi-Sensory Learning also offers a telephone back-up service (the multi-sensory hotline) for anything about the course or any aspect of learning difficulties that you want to discuss.

The pupils' materials are produced in black and white to a high standard, with clear pictures and print, and are well organised and laid out. However they are, it has to be said, a little on the dull side. I suspect that, as always, a great deal will come down to the personal skills of the teacher using them.

This is a well-thought-out and well-packaged approach to meeting the demands for specialised teaching for children with dyslexia or specific learning difficulties. It is intended as a lower-cost and simpler alternative to sending a teacher to train with the Dyslexia Institute. In addition, it provides a wealth of structured teaching materials.

Whether or not it will be considered as an acceptable alternative by parents of children with dyslexia is to be seen. Whether this highly-structured, multi-sensory approach is the way to teach dyslexics is another question entirely.

Multi-Sensory Learning - stand SN263

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