Reading and writing can be a struggle for visual learners. These right-brain holistic, nonlinear thinkers live in the world of images but reading and writing are all about left-brain words.
Right-brain visual thinkers see, think, learn and remember visually. Visual thinking is fast. It’s instantaneous, holistic, non linear, intuitive. It’s natural. The brain processes up to 36,000 images an hour, so there’s a lot happening over there – all the time. When it’s time to read, a visual thinker has to shift gears. They have to slow down and turn off the right side of their brain and engage the left side to process words, one at a time, logically and sequentially. It can be done but it’s a much slower, more cumbersome, less comfortable process.
Reading is a one word at a time process. Reading requires us to read the whole sentence or sometimes even an entire paragraph before we understand its meaning. Reading also requires a mastery of words and vocabulary, which is not usually a strength of visual learners.
Writing presents many of the same challenges – but in reverse. Visual kids have a lot of ideas happening all the time- but they’re pictures in their head. Writing requires them to translate their rich multi-dimensional images into words and get them on paper. It’s an overwhelming challenge that can feel impossible. Visual thinkers may not have words for what they can see. They’re less experienced and less comfortable with words, and words are much slower than images.
If all that isn’t hard enough, our non-linear, visual thinkers need to organize, edit and sequence their thoughts to tell a story or explain a position. Visual thinkers often lack the sequencing skills needed to separate and to organize their thoughts. They can also struggle to create context, use comparisons and provide supporting detail because they’re used to the immediacy and holistic nature of visual thinking.
What can we do about it?
We want our visual kids to read and write well.
They need to know how to read and write well – so how do we get them there?
Understand the struggle.
Whether you’re mom, dad, teacher or grandparent, know this is a very real struggle. Your child is not being difficult, lazy or resistant. Their struggle is not about their intelligence, capabilities or attitude. It’s about the way their brain processes words vs. images. But know, your visual child can enjoy reading and can be a good writer.
Stand up for your child.
Schools are very focused on getting kids to read and write because reading and writing are enormously important. Schools are very linear, language left-brain focused in the way they teach and may not get who your child is or what they need to learn effectively. Pay attention to what’s happening in the classroom and partner with your child’s teacher to get them what they need.
Commit to success.
Our kids benefit greatly by being fluent in reading and writing and when you understand what’s tripping them up, you can help them succeed. Decide you’re going to. There’s no room for “he just doesn’t like it” or “I don’t have time” or “it’s the school’s job.” It’s yours. You know your child. You love your child. You can make the difference.
Find ways to help.
There are many ways to help kids with reading and writing – but you have a visual learner and you need to zero in on the techniques that work for visual kids. Bettefetter.com is dedicated to designing and sharing tools and techniques that work for visual learners. They need to interact with what they’re learning. They need to write it, see it, color it and experience it. They need ways to help turn their thoughts into words and organize them- visually. And there are plenty of ways to make that happen.
Champion the cause. There are visual thinkers in classrooms everywhere. Every age. Every school. They’re struggling and they don’t know why. Get educated. Change things for your child and help spread the word. Let’s make a difference for visual thinkers everywhere.