Today marks Week 4, the final week of the series, Understanding How Your Child Learns. So far we’ve discussed what learning styles are and have described ways to teach auditory and kinesthetic/tactile learners. The topic for today is homeschooling visual learners.
Earlier this week, I was driving to a new destination for the first time. Since my sense of direction is terrible, I had to use the GPS in order to get there. Though the pleasant automated voice provided detailed turn by turn directions, I found myself repeatedly switching over to the written directions and studying the map while waiting at stop lights.
Hearing the directions wasn’t sufficient for me. I’m a visual learner, so looking at the map proved to be the best way for me to understand the directions. If you are homeschooling a visual learner, this need for visual support may be a familiar one. In addition, you many notice that your visual learner:
- has trouble following oral directions
- studies gestures and facial expressions
- visualizes concepts inside her head
- remembers what he sees rather than what he hears
Since visual learners find educational success when information is presented visually, you can try a variety of strategies to help your visual learner. If your child is a visual learner, try to:
Demonstrate what you’d like your child to do. If you’re trying to teach your child a specific skill, let him watch you do it first. Visual learners may find it easier to learn shoe tying or cursive writing by watching you do it first. As you demonstrate, instruct your child to stop you as soon as they run into a step they don’t understand. This will allow you to pinpoint the exact source of confusion and prevent the generic and all encompassing cry of “I just don’t understand this!” Repeat the demonstration a few times and then let your child try.
Make outlines and use notecards. Outlines and notecards are great tools for visual learners because they help children see how information fits together and creates visual patterns under headings. Let’s say your child is studying the state of Vermont. As part of your study, your child has read several great books about the state. By using an outline or notecards as your child reads, she can keep track of important state details such as resources, attractions, cities, and famous residents. If you later choose to create a lapbook or write a report, it will be easier for your visual learner to understand what he’s learned since the information is visually organized in a neat and concise manner.
Create timelines to document historical events. Timelines are a fantastic way to help your learner visually place historical events. For the past year and a half, the girlies and I have been studying world history using Story of the World. Though we love the curriculum, there are many world events that overlap and keeping track of them would become confusing if we didn’t have a system in place to track them. To keep everything organized, we organize information using a large timeline. At a glance, we can see when events have taken place. This is a great help to visual learners.
Use flowcharts. Flow charts are great for helping visual learners map out ideas. They can be especially useful in science when studying characteristics of animals or when working through experiments. Just be sure not to include too many details or the flow chart will be become a messy, disorganized jumble of twists and turns that overwhelms your child. Create your own flowcharts using this template for Windows.
Make use of a color coding system to organize information. This allows your child to categorize information effectively. Studying parts of speech? Highlight nouns in pink, verbs in blue, adjectives in yellow, etc. Make it easier for your visual learner to keep track of subjects by using a color coding system. For example, keep math materials in a blue folder and place corresponding blue stickers on all math worksheets, tests, etc. When it’s time to file papers away, a quick look will allow your visual learner to easily find or file materials. Place a key on the wall as a reminder of what color matches which subject.
Knowing your child’s learning style is a critical step in understanding how to teach him. Remember that for the visual learner, a picture is often worth a thousand words. Take time to review your teaching strategies to make sure you’re meeting your visual learner’s needs.
Photo courtesy of marin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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