After homeschooling my 9 children, I’ve explored just about every teaching strategy there is. Sometimes I can just sit down and do a lesson and the child gets it….so smooth and easy. But most of the time it’s a slow process and I have to repeat myself about 700 times before that light bulb turns on. And occasionally, just occasionally, it feels like there is nothing I can do to force that information into their precious little minds. So I have to reach way down deep into my bag of tricks to find a way to teach and connect.
One thing I know for sure….I am not giving up. They will eventually learn what we are studying if I will just keep trying.
That’s when I have to get creative. I’ll admit, it’s a pain. A pencil and paper aren’t going to be enough for these teaching moments and I have to make messes and spend extra time that I don’t always have. I often get in too much of a hurry and these challenges remind me to slow down and enjoy the process. When we’re learning together we’re building our relationship.
It’s in these times I lean on all 5 senses, for me and my child! If hearing it and seeing it didn’t help them learn something, then let’s try going deeper with the other senses.
Learning with all 5 senses really drives a lesson deep into their minds. It enters their brain from all directions. It is a powerful tool for teaching children, no matter what you’re working on together. From math to history to Bible, using all 5 senses to help children learn is a great resource!
Using All 5 Senses to Help Children Learn
They say seeing is believing. Sight is how most people learn best. I see a seed go into the ground and I understand better than just being told about the process. I see the color of the sky and I better grasp the weather forecast. Find ways to show pictures or real world visual examples of the lesson you’re trying to teach.
Listening is a lost art. We have so many noises happening all around us that we miss the precious experience of really listening. Take your child outside and ask them to list all the sounds they hear. Teach them to separate one from another. Or make the house quiet and let the silence relax them, then introduce sounds that drive home your lesson. For example if you’re learning addition, tapping in a quiet room can help them hear 5 + 3 = 8.
The first two senses more naturally lend themselves to teaching. But what about smell? How can smell help me teach about the story of David and Goliath? Well let’s think about the story…was there dirt? Bread? Sweat? Even rocks have a smell. Find ways to add this powerful sense to the lesson and it will forever stick with your child. In the same way a scent, like fresh cut grass or a favorite childhood food, can flash you back to a moment in years past, you can create that kind of memory for your child.
Even the taste of victory can help you learn. Have a special cookie that you give them when they are trying to learn a concept and that flavor will help them learn again in the future. It subconsciously turns on parts of the brain other senses can’t reach. If you’re learning Bible stories, have juice or bread or fruit to taste as you read stories with those foods in them. Taste and see that the Lord is good!
This is such a valuable sense that we often overlook. Even while reading a book together, encourage your child to feel the pages. Let them physically explore though the lesson and they will have more memories to draw from when they’re recalling the information. When we are learning history I love to use touch to really enhance their recall later on. I will look for anything from a time period, the coldness of metal, splashing water, rough wood, soft fur or sharp swords. Find something for them to touch so they will remember the lesson better!
You really can’t beat using all 5 senses to help children learn. Whether you homeschool or not, you’re always helping your child learn! So find ways to incorporate the senses into a hard lesson. Reach if you have to, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Even a fumbling effort can lead to laughter, happy memories and family bonding.
Make a list of the senses and one idea for each to go with your next lesson. Even if you’re teaching them how to fold laundry and put it away….they can look at a picture of a folded shirt, listen to you tell them how to do it (maybe with a little song?), smell the difference between clean and dirty laundry, feel the clothes as they get folded neatly and have a piece of fruit together when they’re all finished.
Using all 5 senses to help children learn will make you feel more equipped when you feel stuck or overwhelmed by teaching. What have you got to lose? Give it a try today!
For your littlest learners, the brand new Night Night Farm Touch and Feel book provides a wonderful sensory experience! Night Night, Farm—now with a brand-new touch and feel element on every spread! Your children will love saying good night to the animals in pj’s on the farm, to their mommies and daddies, and to God. Bestselling author Amy Parker (more than 1 million books sold) and award-winning illustrator Virginia Allyn join to make this irresistible bedtime book.
Are you using all 5 senses to help children learn? What activities or ideas have worked well for you?