How to Harness the Visual Powers of the Right-Brained Learner

Frequently, struggling readers are visual learners or right-brain learners. It's worth taking a closer look. Children who are not visual or right-brain learners do fine with steps to learn, while visual or right-brain learners do best when they see the whole thing and can snap a mental picture of it.

1. Tap into your child’s visual strength to LEARN WORDS

How to harness the visual powers of your child

What happens for the visual right-brain learner is that their mental cameras snap a picture of the whole word, letters, meaning, and all! Poosh! And it is done! They will remember the picture when they see the plain word later in print. For active learners, it will make all the difference if they can do the body motion as they read the word.

Please note that in the example for visual learners, we didn’t omit teaching letter sounds. We just didn’t lead with that. And this is the difference in teaching approach. It is this change, along with adding an image, that makes all the difference in whether or not your visual, right-brain learner will struggle with reading.

So far we’ve seen that visual learners need to see the whole thing first (the whole word) and then need a visual. After they have those learning needs met, you can revert to teaching the sounds from within the whole word which they can already read. Visual learners will never do better with sounding out words in the way that is considered “the right way" to teach reading. The visual way to teach words is so much quicker, less painful, efficient, lasting, enjoyable, and memorable. A visual learner who is supplied with SnapWords® will far outstrip his or her non-visual counterparts when it comes to speed in learning to read.

"Your SnapWords® flash cards have changed my daughter's life. She could not read anything before we started with them, now she can recognize and spell most of List A on her own and is working through List B now. Thank you!!!!" Jessica

2. Tap into your child’s visual strength for SPELLING

Notice in Jessica’s comment that her daughter went from not reading at all to reading AND spelling! What is happening there? When you show your child the SnapWords® sight word flash card for HELP, and you talk about the whole word, the fact that the tall letters are the raised arms, etc., the child is storing away in visual memory the letters in the word in addition to the whole word. If you want to jump-start success in spelling while you are also teaching sight word recognition, follow this sequence:
a. Teach the word as in the example above
b. Have the child say the letter sounds as they point to each letter in the word
c. Have them write the word on their whiteboard as they say each sound out loud (encourage them to tap into their visual memories for the word they stored as a picture)
d. Finally, tell them that you are going to learn how to spell HELP

  • Have them stare at the SnapWords® card one more time and then close their eyes
  • Ask them to say the letters they see in their mental picture
  • Next have them write the word from memory

Voila! A successful spelling lesson!

*Please note: your child will not need to drill or memorize letters in a word if they can see the thing in their minds. So please have them refer to their stored picture and avoid the urge to drill with them. Also, there is no reason to have a formal spelling lesson with ten words if you are using the visual method for teaching spelling, one word at a time. How cool is that?

3. Tap into your child’s visual strength for WRITING

Continuing with the word HELP as a writing prompt, tell your child they can write a little story about what is happening in the picture of the SnapWords® image for HELP. Visual learners are good at noticing details and these will become the various elements in the story. Ask what they think is going on in the picture. Let their imagination run wild! When they have finished telling you what is happening, ask them to make that into a story. It won’t be hard because they can already see the whole thing in their imagination.

If your child is a beginner who doesn’t have many words in their tool belt yet, have them draw little pictures to illustrate what happened in the story, very much like frames in a cartoon strip. You can then have them dictate to you the caption for each picture. When you have written the caption for the cartoon strip, read it to them, pointing to each word as you read it.

Make your lessons easy-peasy – start today!

If it were me, I would begin each day with these three activities. Over time, what you will see is that your child will make tremendous gains and learn more quickly than children who are being taught without visual elements. That might sound impossible, but I have taught children who had so many labels that they could hardly walk upright for the load they were carrying. This method of teaching (using images and body motion, of teaching the whole thing straight away) cuts through the confusion of all the teaching details that did not help them and took them straight to the core of the learning that resulted in their being able to read, spell, and write. It is not the method that is incredible, but the capacity of the child’s brain to learn beautifully when we give it what it needs.

From my heart to yours

I hurt for every bright and talented child out there who is struggling under a system that is not working for them. Child after child is shutting down and there is no reason for this! Let’s work together to help them love learning.

Rule of thumb:

If a child is struggling, don’t use more and more details. Cut through all that, get to the point immediately, and learning will happen! Go get SnapWords® and use them for teaching reading, and spelling, and writing. One word a day at the beginning, following the 3 point outline above, and then as many words a day as your child wants to learn.

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