The use of multi-sensory methods can prove to be very useful in developing children’s reading and writing skills, agreed the panellists during a discussion at the first day of the Children’s Literature Festival organised at the Karachi Arts Council on Friday.
“Use of visuals, such as colours, shapes, numbers, gestures and body languages, in our teachings is one way through which you can develop good reading and writing skills in a child,” said Talea Zafar of ToffeeTV. The panel, comprising CLF Director Rumana Husain, Sindh Education Foundation’s Huzefa Ali, Rabia Garib and Zafar of ToffeeTV, Idara-e-Taleem-O-Aagahi’s Huma Sikander and Aga Khan Institute of Educational Development’s Zulfiqar Ahmed, spoke on how to develop the use of five senses in children while reading and writing creatively.
According to Ali, the sensory weakness developed at an early age remains when a person gets older. “This is why it is imperative that parents develop their children’s senses from the beginning so that they are able to perform creatively at older age,” he said.
Agreeing with him, Husain said, “The habit of simply following what the teacher says is develops in children by telling them what to do at every step.” In her opinion, the CLF was a good opportunity for children to be left on their own so that they could explore new things. “They will go to places of their interest which will open their minds to creativity,” she said.
For Sikander, recognition of sounds, like those of water, sneezing and knocking, were important for children to learn at an early age. “While listening to a story, they can develop their imagination by watching, listening and thinking about what is happening in the story,” she said, adding that ToffeeTV was doing the job of telling stories online.
During the session, a teacher of Urdu language brought up the point that the use of language was also very important for children in learning and understanding things easily. “Parents today are focusing on teaching one language to their child whereas having a good command of multiple languages which will lead him or her to become a good communicator,” said the teacher. “That is why we have organised the storytelling sessions in different languages as we don’t want children to be limited to just one,” said Husain in response. A student of grade four, who is already reading Ghalib, pointed out a spelling mistake in one of the Oxford University Press’ books placed in the session hall.
“How can we learn when we come across mistakes like these?” she asked to which Sikander replied, “To overcome this, you can create your own book by changing the spellings, making the book colourful by using your imaginations and then displaying it in festivals like the CLF.”
In Ahmed’s opinion, language is not the only important factor – the reader should also get the message of the story which can only happen if the reader has multi-sensory skills. “If a reader does not understand the meaning of a word, he or she can use their multi-sensory skills and read the whole sentence to get the meaning through context.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2014.