Visual perception refers to the brain’s ability to process, store and make sense of what our eyes see. As you can imagine, visual perceptual skills are important for daily tasks like finding our way about, feeding and dressing ourselves, recognising people and places and so on.
These skills are also critical for learning and are needed for a child to recognise, remember, differentiate and make meaning of new information that is shown to them visually.
We describe a few visual perceptual skills below and what you can do to help strengthen these areas in your child:
A) Visual Short Term Memory and Visual Sequential Memory
Visual memory is the ability to recall what you have seen.
Visual short term memory requires the child to store and recall something he/she has seen in his/her short term memory (like the RAM of your computer). It plays an important part in a child's learning, for example, recalling the shapes of letters, numbers or words they were taught in a lesson, or remembering a story they have read.
Visual sequential memory is slightly different as it requires the child to recall what he/she has seen in a specific sequence, for example ordering numbers from 1 to 10 after they were shown the sequence visually, or copying text from the board.
Here are 3 fun ways to train your child’s visual memory:
1. Play visual memory games such as "I Spy"! This game can be played when you’re both indoors and outdoors. Choose an object/subject in the environment and get your child to guess what it is by providing descriptions of the object.
2. Alternatively, you can use picture cards like our memory game cards, which feature various farm or sea animals and come in 36 cards a pack. Besides helping the child to identify the different animals, you can use the cards to play simple memory games or the traditional game of 'Snap!'.
3. Use sight word flashcards to train your child’s memory (while also teaching them sight words at the same time!). Our sight word flashcards feature sight words from the Dolch list and can be used for various memory games!
B) Visual Discrimination and Visual Figure Ground
Visual discrimination is a child's ability to see differences and similarities in shapes, patterns and objects – for example, when you try to tell twin siblings apart!
Visual figure ground involves the ability to see and differentiate an object with a busy background – for example, when you try to look for an item in a messy drawer! Especially for schooling children, this skill will help your child by preventing him/her from getting lost when copying work from the whiteboard.
If you are looking for ways to develop these skills for your child, we have developed two sets of FREE downloadable exercises to train your child's Visual Discrimination skills.
4. 'How many do you see?' allows the child to find, focus on and count target items amongst a mix of many others. As you can tell, this exercise gets the child to practise counting too! You can also increase their vocabulary by introducing to them the names of all the objects in the pictures.
5. 'Find the Same' requires your child to pay attention to details in pictures. In each row of images, only one matches the main image on the left. To help your child, you can show them the images on the right one by one by covering the others.
C) Form Constancy
This refers to a child's ability to recognize and identify something when it is in a different environment or when some of its characteristics (eg. size, colour, position) have changed. This skill is important for a child to be able to recognize letters, numbers or words when they are in different forms eg: printed text vs handwriting or different fonts.
You can train Form Constancy in your child by:
6. Pointing out different forms of the same numbers/letters in various print media or in signs, and getting the child to handle 3D foam letters and numbers, orienting them in varied ways.
7. Featured here is our Visual Graphing exercise in which your child can have fun matching farm and sea animals in different settings. This takes some visual discrimination skills too!
8. If you are interested in teaching letters, our Literacy 1 Workbook gets the child to identify each letter in various fonts - this helps to recognize those squiggly a's, g's and t’s with tails and none.
D) Visual Closure
Visual closure is the ability to correctly and accurately perceive an object, image, symbol or word, even when it is partly hidden by other items. It enables your child to quickly recognise words by their shape or general arrangement of letters, without needing to pay too much attention to each individual letter. This skill helps your child to read more quickly and fluently.
9. A simple DIY visual closure activity is shown below. Markers, post-its and voilà!
10. Jigsaw puzzles are good visual closure activities. Our set of simple straight line 3-4 piece magnetized jigsaws (20 animal puzzles in a set) are suitable for young ones 2 years and up just starting on jigsaws. The child can build the jigsaw and you can then introduce the name of the animal by writing its name using the whiteboard and marker provided. You can find out more at our E-Shop here.
With the myriad of activities above, your child is sure to be spoilt for choice, and we hope they will be useful in developing your child’s visual perceptual skills! Do try out these activities with your child today and share with us which are your favourites!