The Learning Media Assessment has a wonderful component called the Sensory Channels Assessment. The TVI observes the child’s interaction with materials over many sessions (I like to do 5 or more).
What is the first thing that the child does with a material? In scoring the assessment we might notice that a child immediately brings the materials up to their eyes. That child’s primary sense for learning is vision. If we notice the child takes the materials and most often creates noise or brings it to their ear to explore, the auditory sense is the best for learning. If the child brings it to explore in the mouth or begins running their hand over the surface of the material, the tactile sense is the best for learning. (NOTE: exploration in the mouth is a rolling exploration rather than that biting seen in children who are seeking sensory input). The child might bring it to their nose indicating the importance of this smell sense for understanding the materials. The child might lick materials that could indicate that taste is supporting learning.
The Sensory Channels Assessment also looks at secondary senses used. A child might use vision first then put it in their mouth to explore. This would be vision as the primary channel and tactile as the secondary channel. If the child makes noise with the material then brings it to their vision to look, the primary sense is auditory and vision is the secondary channel.
Lastly, the Sensory Channels Assessment tells us about weak sensory channels. These are areas that might benefit from instruction and practice to increase use.
It is important to evaluate the best sensory channel so we use these “optimal” channels for all learning but it is equally important to identify weak channels to bolster their use in all activities. The more we can build all the channels to their optimal level, the more access the child has to the world.
Children tell us a lot about their best learning mode if we just observe!