1. Who is Generally a Visual Learner?
• Individuals with Dyslexia
• Individuals with Down syndrome
• Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Individuals with Asperger's Syndrome
• Individuals with Trisomy 21
• Individuals with ADD/ADHD
• Individuals with Apraxia
• Individuals with a Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NLD)
• An overwhelming percentage of the population!
2. Reading and the Visual Learner
As a visual learner, readers tend to use the right side of their brain for reading rather than the left side. In doing so, words are remembered as pictures, rather than by way of the phonetic decoding methods that are used by the left side of the brain. Children who are visual learners tend to have weaker auditory processing skills along with weaker auditory memory. For these children, remembering how letters and sounds fit together to make up a word can be challenging. It is important for visual learners to see the whole word as a picture first, and then it is easier to remember how those letters and sounds fit together to make up that whole word/picture. As a result of these struggles, many children who are visual learners can fall behind in a classroom that uses predominantly phonetic decoding methods for teaching reading.
3. Flashcards and Reading
Flashcards are often misused by the even the most well-intended user. They are meant to be flashed, not held for an indefinite period of time! Fortunately, flash cards utilize all three learning modalities: visual, auditory and tactile.
Flash cards should be bright and engaging in order to make a real impact particularly for the visual learner. To begin teaching reading, each card should contain a word that represents something that the learner can visualize. (It is much easier for a child to visualize a 'ball' than to visualize and remember the word 'that'). Auditory reinforcement by the instructor is imperative so that the child hears very clearly how the word should sound.
4. Using Flashcards
• Use large flashcards
• Use a brightly-coloured font (we recommend red)
• Use illustrations to demonstrate content when needed
• Choose applicable vocabulary that your child will be interested in
• Present flash cards consistently - create a daily routine
• Print letters in lower case except for a proper noun
• Use a very basic font for printing
5. Easing into Phonics Using the Whole-word Approach
6. Using Flashcards While Using Sign Language
If your child is not verbal yet, that does not mean that you cannot begin using a flashcard program to teach them to read. Many parents teach their child to use sign language as a means of communication with them - particularly while they are young. Sign language is a form of visual learning, as the child is taught that a sign represents a word or action. If your child can learn to sign, they are ready to learn to read, as the two methods use the same visual processing skills! Just because they may not be ready to say a word aloud to you does not mean they cannot comprehend that word. Always remember that input and output are two different processes!
Using flashcards to teach words will not only teach your child reading, it can also assist with encouraging your child to vocalize words and improve overall communication.
Sue Buckley, Ph.D. of Portsmouth University and Down Syndrome Educational Trust states in her research (Teaching Reading to Teach Talking) : "teaching reading really does teach talking and improves both visual and auditory short-term memory."
teaching reading really does teach talking and improves both visual and auditory short-term memory.