Is My Child a Visual Learner?

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Visual learners thrive on visual stimuli. They process information and learn best when they can see or visualise through images, objects, colours or use of body language.

Most of the children we work with at Sparks could be described as visual learners.

Filmmaking usually resonates with them, as it’s a visual artform. Information is contained within moving images, which visual learners can identify and understand quickly.

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So, how can you tell if your child is a strong visual learner?

There are lots of signs that might indicate that your child is a strong visual learner:

  • Do they naturally watch and observe events? When they enter a room, do they scan the environment? Do they watch the behaviours of others?
  • Do they daydream? This is usually a strong indication of visual activity in the brain – a simple word, sound or smell can trigger imagination
  • Do they enjoy using colours? Visual learners are likely to colour-code, or choose colours carefully when drawing
  • Do they often forget instructions, when not given face-to-face? This is the idea of things ‘going in one ear, then out the other.’ Visual learners often need to see facial expressions or body language to recall information. They might easily forget things you’ve told them over the phone, or from a separate room. They might well remember the detail of the environment they were in at the time, but they might struggle to remember what was said.
  • Are they active ‘describers’? Do they regularly describe events, or places or experiences using visual details or descriptive phrases?
  • Do they like to take down notes?

All of these are indicators of strong visual learning. This doesn’t mean that your child doesn’t also process information in other ways, just that their visual processing level is high.

Here, we don’t really subscribe to the idea that it’s always one or the other. We prefer more pluralistic models, such as the Multiple Intelligences model, for describing a variety of learning styles/processes.

It also doesn’t mean that your child is likely to struggle at school, which can be a common misconception. In the right teaching environments, visual learners thrive academically.

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How best to support visual learners?

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Usual visual schedules or organisers can help children who learn visually to stay on top of tasks and timings – two areas that can sometimes be a struggle for visual learners

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Visual learners don’t just respond to image-based stimulus, they often love to read as well. Reading can trigger their imaginations, which is both enjoyable and educational 

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There are lots of ways we can support visual learners, by adapting our own behaviours and expectations, and creating opportunities that enable visual learners to perform to their best.

If you have a highly visual child, here are some examples of things you can do at home to help your child’s learning…

  • Communicate face-to-face: a visual learner will engage more with face-to-face conversation, or with a video call as opposed to a phone call. They’ll take more away from being able to see facial expressions and body language, and they’ll retain the information better as well
  • Try to show them things, rather than tell. Show them visual representations of things that they’re interested in, or to share details of your day with them. Try to demonstrate things: often when a visual learner is shown something, they can follow and replicate. Written instructions are also helpful, but verbal instructions can sometimes be difficult to follow
  • Use visual signifiers at home: home schedules, meal planning, chores lists… having all of this visually available can help children understand things like what time we need to leave the house in the morning
  • Limit noise, or noisy environments. If your child is doing their homework, or working on a task, it’s likely they’ll focus and engage more meaningfully in a quiet environment, with fewer auditory distractions. E.g. if a sibling is busy practising a musical instrument, try and find a quiet space away from the noise, or schedule quiet homework time and musical time separately
  • Keep a pen and paper to hand, so they can take down notes when needed. Encouraging them to journal can also be a great idea
  • Support their doodling, note taking, taking photos etc… it might not always make sense to you, but it’s a way for visual learners to communicate and remember details
  • Support use of colour-coding: use of different colour stationery such as pens/pencils/Post-It notes etc. Visual learners can sometimes struggle with organisation, so colour-coding can really help unlock some of these skills
  • Be aware that being a strong visual learner doesn’t mean just image-based stimulus – it means they process visually and often this means  a vivid imagination. Visual learners often love reading, so try to engage in stories and reading together.
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How we use film and media to promote visual literacy…

Filmmaking is a great way for visual learners to express themselves and share their ideas. We find it’s a great way to unlock the potential within a visual learner and help them to translate all the unique and wonderful things they have stored in their mind.

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Filmmaking can help to boost their confidence, especially as it’s an activity where visual learners can do very well and achieve quite quickly.

In filmmaking, there are also plenty of non-visual challenges, which relate to other learning styles and can help to increase accessibility. The visual elements can help provide routes into sound and bodily/kinaesthetic processes, which can support stronger learning within other styles. There are also clear links with storytelling and verbal processing, as well activities that span many other learning styles. All of this means it can also feel stimulating and challenging at the same time.

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With our young filmmakers, we also work to increase visual literacy, which means that the children and young people we work with are learning to ‘read’ and to produce visual information in a high level of detail. This relates to visual coding and things like movement, use of colour, light and shadow, composition, framing, perspective and plenty of visual storytelling.

Use Filmmaking Techniques at Home:

We have lots of suggestions for using film at home to support your child’s visual learning.

Take a look at some of our ideas below.

These are all quick and easy ideas, that you can do with children at home with minimal equipment.

  • Take a camera phone or a tablet, and go on a Point of View adventure around the home. Imagine you’re a mouse on a hunt for some cheese, or a giraffe grazing in the garden. What can you see on your adventure?
  • Make a video tour of your house, with your child presenting and sharing their memories of spaces/items
  • Invent some characters together. Draw them out, or make little puppets. Chat about what adventures they go on together? You can turn these into little animations using ‘stop motion’ technique, or into story books
  • Go on green screen holidays! Using Zoom is a really easy and accessible way to do this. Choose your favourite locations from internet images and set your backgrounds to show your world tour. You can even screen-record these and make them into short video clips you can share
  • Make a family news report to share all the latest updates with friends and family via video
  • Research some fun facts: if you’ve watched a film recently, look into some interesting facts about the production, e.g. did you know that Chewbacca was inspired by George Lucas’s dog in real life?
  • Use toys or Lego characters to create some stop-motion animations. You can also try out this fun Big World challenge we put together >>>

If you give any of these a try, let us know how you get on. We’d love to see some of your work!

You can also visit us on Instagram, where we post new ideas all the time.

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