Monday, February 8, 2010

Is My Child a Visual-Spatial Learner?

As a homeschooling parent, you want to provide the best learning experience for your child. You’ve doubtless heard a lot about the needs of visual learners. If your child is struggling to learn basic skills, taking a closer look at how visual-spatial children learn might be critical. Visual-spatial learners tend have a difficult time because traditional curricula are designed for a different type of learner. Here are some questions to help you determine whether or not your child is a visual-spatial learner.*

  1. Does your child seem to intuit and care about the feelings of others?
  2. Does your child tend to forget what you tell him?
  3. Does he seem to recall well what he sees?
  4. Does she frequently lose track of time?
  5. Does he seem talented in art, music, dance, or drama?
  6. Does she seem disorganized?
  7. Does he have trouble with spelling?
  8. Does she have trouble remembering phonics and math rules?
  9. Does he seem to remember how to get places he’s only been to one time?
  10. Does your child like to construct things?
  11. Does she like to figure out how things work (taking them apart?)
  12. Does your child frequently visualize things? Example: does he frequently see one thing and say “Oh, that looks like a _____________” ?
  13. Does he start laughing during a conversation because a combination of words reminded him of a funny picture in his head?
  14. Can she solve a problem without being able to tell the steps she took to get to the solution?
  15. Is your child good at puzzles or mazes?
  16. Does your child solve problems in unusual ways? In other words, once you tell him what the goal is, does he arrive at that goal in unexpected ways?
  17. Does she have a vivid imagination?
  18. Does your child prefer to draw you a picture or diagram of what he’s thinking than try and tell you using words?
  19. Does your child have at least one parent that would answer “yes” to most of the questions above?

If this sounds like your child, it is likely he or she is a visual-spatial learner.
*Questions based on a quiz from Golon, A. S. (2004). Raising Topsy-Turvy Kids: Successfully Parenting Your Visual-Spatial Child. Denver: DeLeon Publishing.

Research About Visual-Spatial Learners
Dr. Silverman, licensed psychologist and noted author, has researched in depth what it means to be a visual learner. In her own words:
“When we developed the Visual-Spatial Identifier... we still thought that a small percentage of the population would be visual-spatial learners. The results of the second validation study of our Identifier, in 2001, astounded us. Approximately one-third of the 750 students we had assessed in two schools were strongly visual-spatial and another 30% were moderately visual-spatial. That represented the majority of the school population!”

The Dissonance Between Traditional Materials and Visual Learners
I’ve experienced first-hand the difficulties visual learners have using traditional curricula. I am strongly visual-spatial myself, and have worked in depth with visual-spatial and kinesthetic learners. A lot of emotional pain results from these learners being taught using traditional material. Dr. Silverman shows us graphically why this dissonance occurs – and, I might add, why so many visual-spatial children are believed to be disabled and in need of special education.
Success in school depends largely on a student’s ability to:

  • Hear and follow directions
  • Complete work on time
  • Memorize facts
  • Remember quickly
  • Follow steps or rules as in phonics or math
  • Write neatly
  • Spell correctly
  • Be on time and prepared
  • Be organized

Dr. Silverman goes on to state that in our world, adults are most successful when they can:

  • See the big picture
  • Predict or intuit what might happen
  • Create new products or new solutions
  • Take risks
  • Problem-solve
  • Team build, identifying the strengths of others on the team
  • Be computer literate
  • Deal with complex issues, seeing the parts to the whole all at one time
  • Read people well

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