Multimodal Learning in Early Childhood
This essay will focus on multimodal learning in early childhood. It is a technique of using
different learning methods to teach the same piece of information. Some of the “Smart” methods
that will be covered in this essay include image smart, body smart, logic smart, nature smart,
self-smart, people smart, word smart and sound smart. They are some of the methods that can be
used in learning in the multimodal approach. The holistic development and atypical development
will also be covered in line with multimodal learning. The holistic development of a child
emphasis to address all the needs of the life of a child. These needs include emotional, physical,
relational, psychological and spiritual. An aspect of language (multilingualism) is covered in this
essay. Language plays an essential role in multimodal learning in early childhood.
Multilingualism improves the reading and writing skills of a child making the child to perfectly
bond with the multimodal approach. Other than improving the personality of the child,
multilingualism will ensure that the child appreciates other cultures and accepts the cultural
differences. Additionally, multilingual children tend to be analytical, socially and academically
better than those who only know one language. The essay concludes by covering the theory of
play, learning environment approaches and the role of the adult in early childhood learning.
Multimodal Learning in Early Childhood
The learning styles are the preferred ways one can use to learn new information. Some of
the commonly used learning styles include visual, auditory, kinesthetic and most importantly
multimodal. When deciding the learning style to use, it is essential taking into account the age of
the learners. For instance, in early childhood, an instructor should consider if the child prefers
seeing, hearing or “trying out” information. Another aspect to be considered is the behavior of
the child; is the child a good story-teller, who prefers writing down information or working with
Any particular adult has his/her preferred style of learning, while in a setting consisting
of children learners, a variety of learning styles. Using these different learning styles is what
forms multimodal learning. Cohen, (2013) argue that visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning
methods can help a learner in studying and preparing for exams in a more effective way.
Using visual learning can be essential in early childhood since the children learn based on what
they see. An instructor, in this case, may use images, pictures, colors and diagrams in organizing
information and communicating with the children. The children benefit by using charts, graphs,
images and pictures in learning the information. Under visual learning, is a technique of
underlining and using color highlighters which enhance information processing.
Learning can be boring and it the responsibility of the instructor to make the learners
active in the entire learning session. This should be given due consideration especially in
childhood setting in which the learners get distracted after a short time. An auditory learning
style can be used to perfectly address this challenge. In this learning style, the information is
accessed through listening to stories and music. This may also entail making the learners read the
notes aloud, recording them and providing them the recorded content so that they listen to
The kinesthetic learning style entails learning by walking around when studying, drawing
graphs, models, and concepts. When an instructor puts steps or information on a specific size of
the card and then arranges the cards in sequence, this can help learners to acquire the instructor's
intended message especially when the learners are kinesthetic (Holt, 2011).
With kinesthetic, auditory and visual learning styles having unique features, these
methods can be combined to improve information intake by the learners, and this helps in
teaching the children. Using these different methods is what makes multimodal learning. In this
later method, an instructor may use the above three methods or combine the with other methods
to ensure the children ingest the information. Integrating different learning methods is very
helpful for a multimodal learning style (Hand, 2015).
There is a need to adopt multimodal learning in early childhood since the method
presents easier ways of understanding that are essential for child education. Multimodal learning
implies that the most different ways of learning something, the more likely a person is in
learning it. Hand, (2015) argue that in multimodal learning, the more a learner is presented with
different ways of learning, the more the learner is likely to remember the taught content. The
more different approaches one learns something, the more an individual will genuinely
comprehend it (Hand, 2015).
The standard learning practice that is adopted in most schools involves learning through
reading and writing. These two ways of learning have formed the heart of most learning that is
done in schools. While these methods can be essential in education acquisition for more
developed learners, they may not be ideal in early childhood setting in which learners do not
know how to inscribe letters. This calls for multimodal learning which capitalizes the true genius
for learning and ensures the children learn smarter (Cohen, 2013).
Different learning methods can be used to teach the same piece of information in
multimodal learning. Narey, (2013) presents some of the “Smart” methods that include image
smart, body smart, logic smart, nature smart, self-smart, people smart, word smart and sound
smart. Image smart involves making flow charts of the process that is being learned. In body
smart, body movements for the parts of the information are made. The logic smart and nature
smart may involve memorizing steps involved in what is learned or finding equivalents for the
information in animal/plant world respectively. Narey, (2013) explain that self-smart may entail
reflecting the way the learning is changing the learner. In people smart, interviews may be
conducted in the area the learner is studying. The word smart involves turning the information
into limericks or poems. Of all these multimodal methods, sound smart has been advocated as
the best method of learning in early childhood. It involves making songs about the information.
It enables the learners to capture the instructor’s content with ease as they sing the content which
they find entertaining and interesting (Narey, 2013).
Multimodal learning practices such as memorizing the terms and vocabulary of the topic
and conducting interviews in the area a learner is studying are effective though they may not
provide holistic development to a child. The early childhood plays an essential role in shaping
the development of the brain of the child and therefore every child should be taught using the
best method to support his/her holistic development.
The holistic development of a child emphasis to address all the needs of the life of a
child. These needs include emotional, physical, relational, psychological and spiritual. This type
of development has the ability to encourage teachers to emphasize the child as a whole and avoid
focusing on some parts of the child. The teachers are driven to devise any other method of
learning that suits the child depending on her/his holistic development (Cohen, 2013). The
holistic development became popular in the 1960s and over the years, it has steadily grown to be
common. The development of alternative techniques to education, for instance, the Montessori
method is believed to have cropped from the holistic development approach to a child.
As a way of nurturing the child, the holistic development can encourage learning by
making the child engage with the environment. Every child is viewed as an individual and
therefore will find a different learning opportunity through various paths. Holt, (2011) argue that
at any particular moment, the emotions of a child, his/her physical needs, and innovatiness will
largely participate in the development and learning. This furthers the concept that the whole is
bigger than summing parts. A holistic teacher provides children with opportunities for engaging
in open-ended plays at the same time building warm relationships. The teacher also aims to
recognize the essence of the spiritual and cultural development of a child. Through the holistic
development, a teacher emphasis on unique features of a child (Holt, 2011).
Most of the multimodal learning practices in childhood are based on observation. The
basic example is the case where objects and items are drawn, and the learner is taught what those
objects are. Objects such as the mango, apple, car, orange are the common items that a child
learns through observation. Through observation, some atypical patterns of development may
arise. As the instructor uses images and objects to deliver a certain content to a child, it is easy
for the instructor to note the child’s development and therefore provide additional support to the
child (Heider, 2014).
An atypical development occurs when the development does not follow the normal
course. Some of the disorders that characterize atypical development include learning and social
disabilities. An atypical development can determine the method an instructor uses in teaching
this child. However, this type of development has a negative impact on the growth of a child. For
instance, consider a child who is struggling at school. The child can be having trouble staying on
task and completing the assignments. As much as the child could be bright, it is more likely for
his/her grades to suffer because of his/her disability (Holt, 2011). The child can also encounter
problems in making friends because of the problem the child has at school. One may easily
misinterpret the child’s behavior especially when the child has atypical development. The child’s
behavior may be attributed to his/her developmental abnormality. At the same time, one may
conclude the child is behaving that way because he/she is refusing to follow directions and do
his/her school work.
To understand the behavior of a child, it is vital understanding what makes normal and
abnormal development. This is the reason why studying the human growth is paramount. Most of
the content that is covered in human growth regards to the normal development. Applying this
knowledge to a child helps in understanding the ability of a child at different stages of his/her
life. Taking this into consideration, it is paramount paying attention to a child’s behavior that is
different from the normal development anticipations in accordance with the age of the child. In
case the development of a child is significantly delayed or is different from that of his/her peers,
then the child’s behavior is deemed to be atypical development (Yelland, 2011).
Multimodal learning presents the child with different learning development. Therefore, it
is possible for the instructor to identify concerns in a specific mode of learning. These concerns
can be notified to the parents for early intervention. The child may be provided with special care
depending on the concern, and this helps the holistic development of the child. The adult
engagement has been advocated as an essential aspect of supporting the learning of a child as it
is associated with enhanced performance. At any early childhood education institution, the
instructors working with the children will also work with the adults. This is vital in identifying
atypical development patterns of the child (Holt, 2011).
Judie Haynes presents different mechanisms of the way a child acquires social and
academic language. According to this author, learners do not always require acquiring social
language naturally in information settings. That may require teaching them appropriate on ways
to communicate with social institutions. Judie Haynes argues that English language learners
require three to four years to master the social language in the classroom. The statement is
substantially not true. What this author needs to know is that some children are raised in family
backgrounds in which English is the sole language of communication. These children will master
English within a short time of even one year and not three-four years as argued by Judie Haynes.
This is because children who have strong literacy skills in their primary language at home
(English for this case) will master English faster in the classroom (Yelland, 2011).
The language plays an essential role in multimodal learning in early childhood. Suppose a
child is being taught using pictures, charts or even songs and poems. All these are different
methods of learning, yet they have one thing in common. They require a language in instilling
the information to the child. Regardless of the learning technique, an instructor may adopt, the
instructor will always interact with the child in a language a child understands. This is where the
benefits of knowing more than one language is useful (multilingualism). According to Stavans,
(2015) growing up with more than one language is the simplest, quickest and the most effortless
technique of learning foreign languages (Stavans, 2015).
Juan-Garau, (2015) mention that it is easier learning a different language
(multilingualism) from birth than it could be during any other time in life. The author then
mentions that a child is bilingual. Once the child has grown up and starts going to school, in
several situations a child is more likely knowing an extra language depending the population
majority in that learning institution. If the child decides to study more languages later in his/her
life, the child will have a leg-up. The disparities in the sounds, the order of words, rhythms and
the grammatical syntax will be easier to learn. Languages such as Spanish and French have been
argued to be easily learned since the two languages share the vocabulary (Juan-Garau, 2015).
Multimodal learning comprises of different learning methods that are aimed at making
the child understand a given content. Most of the methods are based on reading and writing.
Multilingualism has been proven to aid children in developing superior reading and writing skills
which make the child to perfectly bond with the multimodal approach. We cannot afford to
trivialize the benefits of multilingualism; this practice is invaluable. For instance, multilingual
children tend to be analytical, socially and academically better than those children who only
know one language. Besides his/her personal advantages multilingualism will ensure that the
child appreciates other cultures and accepts the cultural differences (Stavans, 2015).
Learning is not all about reading and writing, but it encompasses other aspects. The
multimodal learning approach provides a set of methods that can be used to achieve learning in
children. Some of the methods include interacting with other children and being active. As the
child explores new experiences, talks to herself/himself, communicates with other children,
encounters physical and psychological challenges and most importantly plays, the child learns.
Playing is an essential method of learning provided by the multimodal approach to learning. The
word "play" finds applications in psychological and educational settings in which it refers to the
way a child can learn such that the child makes sense to the world surrounding her/him. By
engaging in plays, the child is presented with an opportunity of developing social and cognitive
skills. Additionally, the child's emotional character develops as she/he gains confidence that is
required to interact with new experiences and environs (Cohen, 2013).
As a matter of fact, the play items of children act as the raw materials for learning in
early childhood. Selecting the space and materials can be appealing to the children and promote
the content goals of the curriculum. That provides a setting for learning. The ideal learning
environment for children should be welcoming, provide adequate materials for all children and
importantly encourage different types of play since through playing they will learn. A learning
environment should allow children to view and move with ease through all areas of the
classroom or the institution. It is also essential making a learning environment that allows
children to find, use and return materials independently (Hand, 2015).
The adults have a role to play in ensuring learning in early childhood. The aspect of
shared control acts as a pillar determining the way adults and children interact. For instance,
adults may plan activities around specific concepts, and it is their responsibility to go beyond this
in encouraging the initiatives and choices of children. Just as mentioned above that the
multimodal learning involves different learning techniques, adults may follow their children
when they engage in certain learning activities. The most common activity in which the role of
adults may be paramount is learning through playing. The adults need to follow where their
children are playing and the way they are playing for safety purposes (Keel, 2016).
The interaction of adults and children play an essential role in learning and the
development of children. Research by Keel, (2016) indicated that in classrooms where
instructors are responsive, guiding and nurturing, children develop a tendency of taking
initiatives and are highly probable to be actively involved and persist in their work (Keel, 2016).
An aspect of encouragement is vital for any activity or venture. Once a person achieves a
certain goal, it is wise encouraging the person instead of showering the person with praise. This
is a similar behavior that should be reflected in children. Adults have the role of encouraging
children instead of praising them. Encouraging the child will ensure that the child strives for
higher goals rather than relaxing and feeling all has been achieved when the child is praised. The
same should also be reflected in the case of failures. The adults should encourage the children in
case of failure to drive them to achieve the failed attempt.
Summary and conclusion
This essay focused on multimodal learning. This approach refers to different ways of
learning which raise chances of understanding the idea under study. According to Hand, (2015)
in line with multimodal learning, the more a learner is presented with different ways of learning,
the more the learner is likely remembering the taught content. The essay also covered
multimodal learning with respect to holistic development and atypical development. The
language acquisition and becoming literate was also covered. Multilingualism was covered and
related with multimodal learning. An aspect of play which is an ideal method of learning
provided by multimodal learning was also reviewed. Ultimately, the essay covered learning
environment approaches and the role of adults in early childhood learning. With several
advantages associated with multimodal learning, we conclude that this approach to learning
should be adopted in early childhood since the approach presents easier ways of understanding
that are essential for child education.
Cohen, L. E. (2013). Learning across the early childhood curriculum. Bingley: Emerald.
Hand, B. (2015). Using multimodal representations to support learning in the science classroom.
Heider, K. L. (2014). Young children and families in the information age: applications of
technology in early childhood. Berlin: Springer.
Holt, J. C. (2011). How children learn. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.
Juan-Garau, M. (2015). Content-based language learning in multilingual educational
environments. Cham: Springer.
Keel, S. (2016). Socialization: Parent–Child Interaction in Everyday Life. Routledge.
Narey, M. (2013). Making meaning: constructing multimodal perspectives of language, literacy,
and learning through arts-based early childhood education. New York; London:
Stavans, A. (2015). Multilingualism. Cambridge University Press.
Yelland, N. (2011). Rethinking learning in early childhood education. Berkshire, England: Open