For some middle school children, seeing is more than believing; it is how they learn best. Visual learners prefer to get information through pictures and print. They like to have material color coded or organized in diagrams. They don’t mind sitting still and watching, but they have trouble recalling ideas that they have heard and not seen. Visual learners can improve their grades in middle school by following tips that help them take advantage of their learning style.
Often, visual learners need instruction geared toward their learning style to help them deal with the more complex learning tasks that they face in middle school. Visual learners fall into two groups, although many students are a mixture of the two. Some visual learners are picture learners. They think in pictures and prefer information to come in graphic or artistic forms. They like to draw, paint and sculpt. Look for doodles all over their notes. Others with this learning style are print learners. Their learning and memory are triggered by printed words. These types of learners can excel at memorizing lists and they like to write out thoughts and ideas.
Middle school is often the first time that school children are exposed to tasks requiring them to retain, recall and apply longer lists of vocabulary words and complex definitions. To study vocabulary, visual learners should write terms and definitions on colored index cards. When they study, their brains will associate concepts with colors. Adding drawings and diagrams associated with the words will help them remember. Color coding sections of their notebooks will help them find their notes and assignments. Underlining important notes and concepts with different colored highlighters will support retaining and recalling those ideas.
Teachers can support visual learners by using graphic organizers and diagrams. Asking students to organize information in semantic webs, flowcharts and Venn diagrams will help them to see and understand the relationship between important terms and concepts. Longer written compositions and essays become common in middle school. Visual learners may find it easier to organize the content of their writing by creating plot diagrams, story boards or cluster maps before they start writing. Before they write an essay response on a test, visual learners should make a quick map or web of their ideas.
Visual learners often struggle in math classes, which favor students who naturally think sequentially. Because they do well with shapes, visual learners tend to prefer geometry to other types of math that rely heavily on calculations. To learn math concepts more quickly, visual learners should practice with hands-on manipulatives. When helping a visual learner with abstract math problems, a teacher, parent or tutor should look for real-world situations that the student can picture. For example, try to relate the problem to money or mixing ingredients in a recipe. When possible, draw diagrams and create charts to make word problems easier to grasp. Creating flow charts will help make problem-solving routines easier to grasp.