Parenting a Visual Spatial Child

By Melinda Kedro
Visual-spatial learners think in pictures, not words.
Visual-spatial learners think in pictures, not words.

Being the parent of a visual-spatial learner requires you to understand how your child's way of understanding concepts and the world around him differs from other children. A visual-spatial learner learns mostly from observation, absorbs meaning from the bigger picture as opposed to details and learns concepts all at once. Step-by-step learning, drilling and repetition are ineffective methods of learning for these types of children.

Use Pictures to Convey Concepts

The most basic way to make learning easier for a visual-spatial child is to incorporate and make use of visual aids. You will observe more developmental advancement in your child using visual guides rather than just common verbal instructions. Create picture posters with your child to hang around the house that illustrate where things belong, what procedures are meant to be followed and the order of specific activities during the day. Use a clothespin or other marker to show the progress that has been made throughout the day's activities and which tasks have been completed. Be sure to incorporate a variety of colors and shapes in visual aids. Visual-spatial learners respond well to dynamic imagery.

Minimize Distractions

Keep your home -- and especially your child's room -- as organized and clutter-free as possible. Visual-spatial learners have a difficult time processing information if too many distractions are present in the environment, yet they struggle with organization and time management. With the younger child, establish a structured method for using one toy at a time, cleaning up when finished with an activity and returning objects to their designated space. Help the older visual-spatial child minimize distractions by offering computer-based learning activities, clarifying and keeping track of specific time slots for individual activities and writing down any instructions that need to be given.

Work With Your Child's Teacher

It is beneficial to speak with your child's teacher about his learning style. Most classroom settings teach students through auditory-sequential instruction, making it difficult for the visual-spatial learner to follow or grasp concepts. Help your child's teacher to understand the best ways for a visual-spatial learner to absorb lessons. Request that visual aids are used along with auditory presentations of material. Encourage the teacher to incorporate as many hands-on, interactive lessons as possible to assist your child in his learning process. Ask that your child be assigned a seat at the front of the classroom to ensure ample visual contact for maintaining focus.

Beneficial Activities for Visual-Spatial Learners

Be sure to keep your child's room stocked with activities such as jigsaw puzzles, constructive building blocks and shape sorting games. Children who are visual-spatial learners also respond well to the use of flashcards. Provide opportunities for your child to participate in interactive, movement-based games like Simon Says or Follow the Leader. Older visual-spatial children may enjoy designing their own scientific experiments or programming your home computer. In addition, visual-spatial learners often grasp reading more easily if taught using the sight method -- whole-word comprehension -- as opposed to phonics. These children also tend to be highly creative, artistic and dramatic. Encourage them to participate in extracurricular art, music or theater classes.

About the Author

With more than 10 years experience in early childhood education, Melinda Kedro holds a Masters degree in education, teaching certification through the Association Montessori Internationale and is a licensed childcare provider through the Colorado Department of Human Services.