Multisensory Mathematics

Multisensory Mathematics

Individuals who have difficulties with language, memory, and with sustained attention may also have difficulties integrating mathematical concepts.

The Orton-Gillingham approach of Multi-Sensory Language education has been has been successfully adapted to different learning situations, lending itself to enable the effective teaching and learning of M as students must put into language what they have discovered and what they have learned to further their mathematical knowledge.

Accurate reading, interpretation of mathematical language and study skills specific to mathematics are all crucial aspects to learning maths. They can only lead to successful achievement if they are taught through a multi-sensory approach built on a sound language base.

Just as a language tutoring lesson for a dyslexic student, must be broken down into small increments of learning and practice, so should the math lesson. In both, the tuition should be in small, sequential and cumulative amounts. Moats and Farrell (1999) in Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills define and delineate the history and efficacy of multisensory teaching. These strategies have been successfully adapted for teaching maths.

Lesson Plan

Just as effective tutors in multisensory teaching methods devise a daily lesson plan for language (reading, writing, spelling etc.) learning, a similar lesson plan in multisensory mathematics is necessary in teaching mathematics. Activities within the lesson are varied and of brief duration. All the senses should be employed, so that all the pathways to the brain to ensure optimal processing of information to support efficient retention and retrieval. The lesson plan frequently includes

Review of previous lesson and homework: A review of the previous learning is used to scaffold lesson success. Homework may be checked at this time.

Counting: Visual and auditory patterns are presented to help with discovery of logical progressions. Counting forward facilitates addition while counting backward reinforces subtraction.

Skip counting strengthens memory for multiplication facts, and the reverse for division.

Counting is set at appropriate age levels for children and adolescents.

White Board Activities: For younger children, this activity aids memorisation through internalizing of numeral patterns on a different scale to desktop paper and pencil.

Strategies are given for reducing reversal transposition errors, including self-monitoring and self-evaluation training.

For older students, working at the whiteboard allows the organisation of written problems or number patterns on a different scale and allows the teacher to observe any error patterns and incorrect strategies.

Mental (oral) maths: A short time each is devoted to mental/oral problem-solving. Students are often required to answer questions orally or display the results by means of concrete objects, or by holding up a number card.

Students may continue to hold a pencil in their hand. While the student is using their mind to solve problems, they may need visual and kinaesthetic stimuli to affirm their thinking and learning

Discussion and Oral work: Research has shown that it is essential for children to talk through problems. This may mean attaching meaning to mathematical terminology, brain-storming, or simply discussing the need for learning certain concepts.

New Concepts:  Once students become comfortable with the lesson format and are ready to build on existing knowledge, new concepts are introduced or a new aspect of previous learning is reviewed or reinforced. The teaching is multisensory is aimed towards student independence.  Guided practice activities follow the introduction of new concepts.

Written analysis: This is typically a time of silent and intensive writing practice and concentration. As required, students are given a mental break to switch mentally from work to rest and back into work.

Review and homework: This part of the lesson ties together what has been learnt. Homework is assigned for completion prior to the next session.


Multisensory teaching and learning in mathematics provides the opportunity for the dyslexic individual to become successful and to fulfill their potential, as well as to enjoy what could otherwise be considered a chore.