Does your child use his hands when he tells you about his day? Does he remember faces, but not names? Is he artistic? Well, all those crayon markings on your sparkling white walls could mean your little one is a visual learner.
There are three main types of learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (or physical). Visual learners learn best by watching. Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet, licensed clinical social worker and coordinator of Parents Place Express, defines the visual learner as someone who “needs to see it to know it.” According to Moskowitz-Sweet, a visual learner may:
- Have a strong sense of color and be very color-oriented.
- Need to look at the person he’s talking to in order to keep focused.
- Write things down as a way of remembering.
- Use his hands when he talks
- Overreact to sounds or be easily distracted by noise
- Hold images in his head. A visual learner can literally see the passage from a page in a book in his mind’s eye.
- Often misinterpret words. Sometimes he simply may not get the joke.
- Notice details. Visual learners are very tuned in to similarities and differences. Your child may say something like, “She looks like Grandma, except Grandma has more white hair and doesn’t paint her nails.”
There are many ways to cater to a visual learner’s strengths. Moskowitz-Sweet offers a few tips on how parents and educators can help a visual learner succeed:
- When you can, write it down for her, or have her write it – especially directions.
- Use illustrations, charts, diagrams, and slides to reinforce learning. For young children, making colorful sticker charts for chores or goals is very effective.
- Engage with your child face-to-face. Try not to talk to her from the other room – she needs eye contact.
- Give her colored markers and highlighters. If she writes letters in color, she is more likely to visualize the words and learn them.
- Color code notes, toys, and other possessions. For instance, try giving your child a big red box for all of her red toys.
- Provide a quiet place for her to read and study.
“Children’s ways of learning are as different as the colors of the rainbow,” says Moskowitz-Sweet. Whether your child is an expert finger painter or prefers to use her schoolbook as a Frisbee, knowing your child’s learning style is a critical step in teaching her to navigate the academic system.
- Sue Douglass Fliess