What it means to be a visual learner

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Does your child use their hands when telling you about their day? Does he remember the faces, but not the names? Is he artistic? Well, all those pencil marks 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 can:

  • Have a strong sense of color and be very color oriented.
  • Need to watch the person he’s talking to to stay focused.
  • Write things down as a way to remember it.
  • Using his hands when speaking
  • Overreacting to sounds or being easily distracted by noise
  • Keep pictures in his head. A visual learner can literally see the passage of a page of a book in their mind.
  • Often misinterpret words. Sometimes he just doesn’t get the joke.
  • Notice the details. Visual learners are very receptive 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 address the strengths of a visual learner. Moskowitz-Sweet offers some tips on how parents and educators can help a visual learner be successful:

  • When you can, write it down for her or have her write it down, especially the instructions.
  • Use illustrations, charts, diagrams and slides to reinforce the learning. For young children, creating colorful sticker boards for household 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 it markers and colored highlighters. If she writes letters in color, she is more likely to visualize and learn the words.
  • Color coded notes, toys and other goods. For example, try giving your child a large red box for all of their red toys.
  • Give her a quiet place to read and study.

“Children’s learning styles are as different as the colors of the rainbow,” says Moskowitz-Sweet. Whether your child is an expert at finger painting or prefers to use their textbook like a Frisbee, knowing your child’s learning style is an essential step in teaching them to navigate the school system.

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