The 50 School Readiness Skills: Developing Visual Memory

Practica Blog Post

The 50 School Readiness Skills: Developing Visual Memory

We’re back to discussing the individual school readiness skills and our topic of the day is Visual Memory. I have no doubt that you will have fun with this one as the games that are aimed at developing it are so engaging that playing them can easily become a family tradition.

But, before we get to the games, let’s get a little background on this very important skill.

Q: What is meant by the term “Visual Memory”?

A: Visual Memory is a person’s ability to store and recall information that he has seen.

Q: Why is it important enough to be included as one of the 50 School Readiness skills?

A: Being able to store and retrieve visual information is crucial for learning to read, write and spell.

Reading: Learning to read is intrinsically not easy, but it’s definitely easier when a child has well developed visual memory skills. Why? Because visual memory is what helps a child to reach a point (after much practice) where he can easily recognize, at first glance, many of the words that regularly pop up. Being able to do that makes the task of reading much less demanding.

Writing: When a child is writing a word, he must recall what each of the letters, and the word as a whole, is supposed to look like. This explains why children struggle to copy letters, words and numbers from a blackboard or book when their visual memory skills are underdeveloped. They may write excruciatingly slowly, mix up letters within words, or get so tired from having to put so much effort into it all, that they appear “lazy” in their written work.

Spelling: Many children (and adults) have a hard time with spelling because they simply cannot recall what a word is supposed to look like – and so they have no way of recognising when a word looks “funny” because it’s spelt incorrectly.

Q: How can I develop this important skill in my child?

A: Here are some game ideas from the Practica Programme that I hope will get the ball rolling for you.

  1. What’s missing? Place 2 objects on the table, cover them and then remove one. Uncover the remaining object and ask your child to say what’s missing. Increase the number of objects with time.
  2. What’s different? Draw a simple picture, e.g. a head with eyes, a nose and a mouth. Ask your child to study it and look away so that you can change something. You may, for instance, add a neck or erase eyelashes if you’ve drawn them in the first place. He then needs to say what’s different.
  3. Can you fix it? Put the lids on two of the plastic containers that you have in the kitchen to use as construction pieces. (Practica Parents can use blocks from the Wooden Block Set or the Construction Set.) Build a simple construction with them. Ask your child to have a good look at what you’ve built and take a picture with your cell phone for future reference. Then dismantle the structure and ask your little one to rebuild it exactly the way that he remembers it. Use the picture that you’ve saved on your phone to check his answer. Again, increase the number of blocks with time.

Examples of simple structures:

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  1. Can you copy it? If you’re a Practica Parent, choose an instruction card from the Shape Set that is well within your child’s ability. Ask him to use the shapes that are included in the Shape Set to copy the image that is printed on the card. But, instead of laying the shapes down on the card, ask him to arrange them on the table next to the card. (For 5 and 6 year olds, you can put the card up on the wall and ask the child to reproduce the image as if he’s copying from a blackboard.

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One last tip:

If your child doesn’t seem to be able to focus his attention on what he sees, bear in mind that you can help him by using words. Talk to him about what he is looking at, point to specific details and describe what is right in front of his eyes. Encourage him to use his own words to describe what he sees and soon he will become much more confident and detailed in the way that he perceives objects in his environment.

 

Q: I’ve tried to interest my child in playing these games by talking him through them, but he still doesn’t seem to enjoy looking at things with the intention of remembering what he sees. What can I do?

A: Focus on Game #1 for the time being, but don’t play the game straight away. First, prepare your child by placing the objects that you’re planning to use in a bag and asking him to use his hand to find a specific one and pull it out without looking. The idea is to use your child’s sense of touch to spark his interest in the objects before working with the objects in other ways.

*All children need movement and touch as a foundation for their journey of making sense of the world. It’s as if the movement of their bodies and the tactile experience are needed to amplify the incoming information for them so that they can become comfortable and familiar with objects before working with them. But children have different learning styles and many of them need more practice in this regard. In other words, they need to spend more time touching and handling objects before they eventually develop a workable concept of each of the individual objects.”

Until next time, Lizette