Multi-Sensory Learning & the Picky EaterBy Nonna Joann • Oct 16th, 2009 • Category: Food Battles No More
Multi-sensory learning is vital for the picky eater.
Dr. John Medina says in his book, “Brain Rules,” that multi-sensory learning is powerful. He states, “Extra information given at the moment of learning makes learning better.”
This is especially important information for parents of picky eaters, who inadvertently reinforce the wrong concepts.
Repetition is basic for memory. Have you ever had to memorize a poem, the Ten Commandments, or a part in a play? You repeat, repeat, and repeat, until the information is placed in your memory.
Pictured: Angel is helping with dinner. Helping mom in the kitchen incorporates multi-sensory learning.
Parents often enforce the one-bite rule: one bite is required of a refused food, like spinach. They think their picky eater will eventually come around to liking spinach. All they are doing is reinforcing that some food tastes sooo yucky, only one bite is required.
Although, repetition is important, all the senses contribute to the learning process. Medina says when repetition is combined with other senses, learning is increased.
Medina asks, “What if we introduced information as a multi-sensory experience, and then repeated not only the information, but also one of the modes of presentation? The first re-exposure might be presented visually, for example; the next auditorily; the third, kinesthetically…And let’s not continue to neglect our other senses…touch and smell are capable of making powerful contributions to the learning process.”
And that’s exactly what happens when a parent incorporates the Baby Bite Steps into a child’s mealtime experience. The steps are repeated during the course of a week. Each step stimulates a different sense during mealtimes, which moves the picky eater toward tasting and then eating a refused food.
Beginning with touch, sight, and hearing the attributes of a refused food are explored by the child. The sense of smell and taste are added last, after the child has had an opportunity to experience and learn about the physical attributes of the food. Each child will advance at his own speed, but the steps are designed so that he’ll become a healthy eater.
I was happy to see a molecular biologist found that when more senses were stimulated, learning was enhanced. This confirms the foundation of multi-sensory learning incorporated in my Baby Bite steps. Even picky eaters can learn to enjoy whole foods, by stimulating more senses.
Most likely, when introducing a new food you’ve said “This is yummy!” and then smacked your lips in enjoyment, expecting your picky eater to take a bite. Take it a step further, discuss the food: what it tastes like, the texture, the color, and how it smells. Don’t expect that much of it will be eaten at the first introduction. Make it a point of conversation during dinner. For example, how is broccoli good for you? Where does it grow? Who likes to eat it? Enjoy eating it yourself.
Once picky eaters incorporate all their senses in a positive environment, learning to enjoy whole nutritious foods isn’t so difficult after all. Learning opens the door to new adventures. When incorporating all the senses during meals, the transformation to a healthy eater moves along very quickly. In about seven days with the Baby Bite steps, a picky eater will be tasting new foods…on his own!
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