We all want our children to do well in school. Sometimes though kids struggle with their school work and we’re just not sure how to help. As a school counselor, the first thing I do to help students academically is to identify how they learn.

There are three different ways we learn. We either learn by seeing (visual), hearing (auditory), or doing (kinesthetic). Sometimes students use a combination of two or more of these learning styles.

I use a variety of assessments to determine how students learn, but generally visual learners have certain characteristics. For example, one of the students I worked with, “Audrey,” had difficulty understanding directions given verbally, needed absolute quiet to focus on assignments, and worked best in an organized setting. The learning style assessments I gave Audrey indicated that she was a visual learner. I was able to use that information to come up with strategies to help Audrey complete her assignments and remember information better. This not only helped Audrey academically, but also emotionally.

Students that are struggling with school work often feel badly about themselves. In my study skills group, when I asked the students why they thought they were struggling in school, each replied because “I’m stupid.” However, when I explained that they were having difficulty not because they were stupid, but because they didn’t know how they learned yet, they perked up and were motivated to identify their learning style and try new strategies.

This first article in the series on learning styles will discuss visual learners. Visual learners usually:

  • Like to read.
  • Are good spellers.
  • Memorize things by seeing them on paper.
  • Are organized.
  • Would rather watch, than talk or do.
  • Have good handwriting.
  • Notice details.
  • Remember faces better than names.
  • Have trouble following verbal directions.
  • Are easily distracted by noise.
  • Doodle on their paper.

Here are some strategies that can help visual learners succeed in school. Practice reading by:

  • Putting each letter on a card and have students arrange words.
  • Putting words on cards and have students arrange into sentences.
  • Putting sentences on paper strips to teach sequencing and paragraphing.
  • Showing the visual patterns in words (i.e., word families)

Practice other subjects by:

  • Using visuals to teach lessons, including pictures, graphics, images, charts, outlines, story maps, and diagrams
  • When giving verbal directions, write down key words or phrases and use visuals
  • Demonstrate what you want your child to do.
  • Use dry erase boards with colored markers.
  • Use color cues, framing and symbols to highlight key information.
  • Encourage your child to write down and highlight key information.
  • Encourage the use of flashcards when memorizing (i.e., math facts).
  • Provide visual activities, including maps, videos, models, puzzles, matching activities, computers, and word searches

These techniques can help your child use this learning style to her advantage and maximize motivation in the classroom.