Visualize It: 5 Strategies for Success
By Haley Hall, B.A.
Learning Specialist & LEAP Instructor
To visualize means to create a mental image, or to imagine. As a learning strategy, visualizing helps improve a child’s concept imagery, as well as their ability to retain information, follow complex directions, communicate thoughts in an organized manner, express language through writing, and increase brain processing speed. I’ve compiled several strategies below that incorporate visualizing in different ways.
Visualizing Spelling Words
One of my LEAP students’ favorite ways to practice spelling words is by visualizing them with a partner. For the steps to visualize each word, check out this post that I wrote. You can also watch the video below of two of my students working together to visualize their spelling words.
Visualizing Math Facts
Math facts can be very challenging for students to memorize, whether they’re learning addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. Try out this strategy to help master facts that are difficult for your child.
One of my favorite subjects to use visualizing in is reading. As students develop their concept imagery I notice a huge improvement in their language comprehension. To help develop this mental imagery, we teach students to first create a mental image of a picture, then a word, and then a full sentence. This process continues to build until the student is able to create a mental image of an entire paragraph or page of a story. Here are some steps involved in helping a child visualize a sentence:
- Read the sentence aloud to the student. I have compiled a few examples of sentences here!
- The student uses the verbal structure words (Level 1 or Level 2) to describe their mental imagery.
- The parent or teacher questions what the student pictured by giving choices. For example, if the sentence involved a cat, the teacher might ask, “Did you picture a big cat or a small cat? Show me the size with your hands.”
- Discuss the main idea of the sentence.
It’s important to start with lower-level sentences, and gradually increase the difficulty level. We want the student to feel confident and to create that mental image. Once you are sure that the student is able to process and visualize a low-level sentence, you can move on to more complex material. As you move on to more complex material, you can also increase the amount of text that is visualized at a time. For example, you could read 2 or 3 sentences aloud to the student and have them verbalize their imagery. As a student’s concept imagery is developed and as they’re able to describe their mental images with detail, you will notice an increase in the child’s comprehension and ability to follow directions.
Visualizing Vocabulary Words
Our learning specialist, Elizabeth, shared in this post how to create word bank cards to help your child visualize math concepts that are challenging. You can use this same strategy for other subject areas as well — just be sure to include the concept, an image, a definition, and an example that contains the concept.
Our speech-language pathologist, Jaimi, shared in this post several fun games that support the strategy of visualizing. Enjoy some family fun while practicing an important comprehension strategy!
Haley is a Learning Specialist at Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center. ETLC has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech language therapy and tutoring as well as offer a unique group, the Language Enrichment Academic Program (LEAP). At Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success. Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.
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