1. The Dolch list of words
The Dolch list of words is the list of the most commonly used words in the English language. It consists of words such as 'that' and 'which'. If you are a visual learner, it is extremely helpful to learn words that you can associate a picture with – particularly for a beginner reader. For example, if I show you the word ‘ball’ you would have a pictorial representation of a ball in your mind. Perhaps a baseball or a football? However, if I say the word ‘that’, what picture pops into your mind? We suggest that you begin to teach a child to read with words they can associate a picture of in their mind. Once your child has begun to understand that a word represents a thing, then move on to the Dolch words.
2. Phonics vs. whole-word approach
This is like asking the proverbial question of “Which came first - the egg or the chicken.” Should you begin teaching letter and sounds (phonics) or whole words first? We suggest the use of whole-word flashcards to ease into phonics. If your child is a visual learner, it is very important that they see the whole word FIRST, as it allows them to understand how all of those letters and sounds fit together to make up that word. Once they can see this, and identify how it all fits together to make up that word, they are much more likely to remember the word and its parts. Also keep in mind that if your child is predominantly a visual learner, their visual memory will potentially be much stronger than their auditory memory and they will therefore remember how a word looks more easily than how all of the sounds fit together to make up that word. P.S. Don’t be afraid to introduce larger words to your child, as they will probably identify them easier than smaller words.
3. Pictures and words on the same flashcard
IF you are a visual learner and someone shows you a card with a nice colourful picture AND a word on the same card, what are you most apt to look at – the picture or the word? I’m sure you said the picture. So why would we bother putting the word on the same card? Show the child the word FIRST, and THEN show them the picture that represents that word on a separate card. (If you show the picture first, your child may not be interested in seeing the word afterwards).
4. Word families & similar looking words
As a visual learner, it is very confusing to see words that look very similar and be able to decipher the differences. For example: hat cat mat sat. They all look very similar, as opposed to words like: egg, refrigerator, or spaghetti. These words look very different from each other. We encourage you to show your child word sets to that look very different from each other.
5. Labelling items
By labelling items around your house you are providing those words to them continually, but they are also becoming part of the ‘wallpaper’. However, by scheduling short learning sessions with your child (no longer than 5 to 10 minutes), the words you show them take on a ‘special’ time. Keep the words for those special times and leave them wanting more! This will instil an eagerness for them to learn new information!