Increasing Visual Memory Can Help Learning!
Visual memory is the ability to hold and manipulate images in your brain once the image is gone. This skill is vitally important since 75 to 90% of what we take in is visual. To top it off, visual memory affects every subject in school, so if your child has weak visual memory, a chain reaction of academic failure will take place. Visual memory can be enhanced through repetition and slowly increasing the demand of holding more and more images in memory. For example, your child might only be able to hold three images in visual memory. This means that he/she will top out at reading three-letter words. To survive and just get by, these kids usually end up memorizing words, which isn't the most efficient way to read!
It's important to have these children practice holding three images in visual memory until it's easy to do. Then, we add four digits and practice until the student is ready for five digits. This doesn't happen overnight, but step-by-step we're able to build up this skill.
This vital visual skill affects the ability to spell words, remember history dates, and pass tests that require the student to recall information. Through my work, I am finding that most kids are topping out at a three-digit visual memory span. This is distressing since the rule of thumb is that a seven-year old should be able to hold seven digits in visual memory. The great news is that this is just a skill that can be enhanced and strengthened, no different than training for a marathon! Keep in mind that we have to walk before we're running through the finish line! Following are some ways to help strengthen visual memory. Keep in mind that this is only one skill out of many that are part of a child's strong learning foundation. 1. Play concentration or the memory game with a deck of cards. It's okay if the child can only match a few cards. Start slow and build up to more cards to remember. 2. Most card games like Uno, Go Fish, Old Maid, and Crazy Eights require remembering visual cues in order to play. 3. Board games are usually equally strong in helping the student recall and manipulate visual images.
4. Use digit span with numbers. Write various numbers in patterns on cards or paper. Start with two or three digits and hold up a card. Take it away and have your child write the digits just as you wrote them. If your child makes a mistake, just have him/her fix it. When three digits are mastered, move on to four, and so on.
5. Mix numbers, letters, and shapes for the above-mentioned game.
6. Teach your child to "chunk" visual information. Write six letters or numbers on a card. Have your child recall and "chunk" the first three then the second. Have your child then work on remembering all six once the first set was "chunked" properly.