By Dr. Robert Titzer
I began creating the prototype for the Your Baby Can Learn! program in 1991 to use with my own babies. As of 2017, more than one million young children have used this approach, and many celebrities have publicly stated that they have enjoyed success with the series. Currently, this approach is popular in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam, and many other places around the world.
Your Baby Can Learn! is designed to teach language skills in a way that is similar to how infants and young children naturally explore their environments — by using their senses and by interacting with people and objects.
Multisensory learning means learning through more than one sensory system at the same time. In other words, what your baby sees should match what she hears. Other sensory information should match as well. Babies often learn more with multisensory learning than they do through a single sensory system (Rose & Ruff, 1987). Children naturally use all of their senses when exploring their environments. For example, when learning about a toy, babies generally look at the toy, touch the toy, listen to sounds made by the toy, smell the toy, or put the toy in their mouths. Babies also often use movement to help them learn – they may shake the toy to gather additional information. Your Baby Can Learn! allows children to learn about language in the same ways that they naturally learn about toys or other objects. Instead of only hearing language, children are allowed to see words at the same time they hear them – along with seeing and hearing what the words mean. I also encourage children to use touch and other senses and to do physical actions related to the meanings of the words.
Multisensory learning will give your babies more information compared to learning through one sensory system. For example, with language, babies typically learn skills with their ears. One of the first concepts young infants need to figure out in order to learn words is determining where words begin and end. As you might expect, babies who are allowed to see and hear language at the same time have more information they may use to figure out where words begin and end than babies who only hear language.
Try drawing your baby’s attention to your mouth while speaking, allowing your child to see and hear words as they are formed. It is even better to add touch and movement. Movement is sometimes called a sixth sense for babies since they gather so much information this way. If your baby does a physical action related to the word that involves touching, then your child should have even more brain connections related to the word. If the word is nose, your baby would have more multisensory information if all of the following occurred:
• your baby sees and hears the word nose (visual and auditory info.)
• your baby sees your nose (visual info.)
• someone touches your baby’s nose (touch/haptic info.)
• your baby touches his nose while looking into a mirror (kinesthetic, haptic, and visual info.)
• your baby smells something with his nose (olfactory info.)
• you describe and show what is happening as it happens (auditory and visual info.)
Ideally, provide the above information very close together in time or give this information several times with more than one sense (visual and auditory; visual and haptic; auditory, haptic and kinesthetic; and so on).Your infant or toddler forms tens of thousands of new synapses every second, and many of these new brain connections go from one sensory system to other sensory systems. This is why it is especially important to help your child make multisensory connections.
This approach is also highly interactive. Instead of passively watching the videos or looking at the word cards, we encourage the process to be fun and communicative. In the videos, we often ask questions for the child to answer by talking, pointing, looking, or doing more physical actions such as touching corresponding body parts.