Visual Perceptual Skills: The Keys to Learning – Part 3

Visual Perceptual Skills:  The Keys to Learning, Part 3, Handwriting With Katherine        In our previous articles, we discussed the first four skills in the Visual Perceptual Skill Set:

·      Visual Attention
·      Visual Discrimination
·      Position in Space
·      Visual Spatial Relations
·      Visual Memory
·      Visual Sequential Memory
·      Visual Form Constancy
·      Visual Closure
·      Figure Ground

 

 

It was apparent that these skills set the stage for our ability to pay attention to our tasks, as well as to understand what our bodies can do and how we can manipulate them through space.

 

We will continue on our journey of discovery by taking a look at the next two visual perceptual skills:

Visual Memory and Visual Sequential Memory.

 

5.  Visual Memory is our ability to recall and store visual details in our short-term memory for use during automatic tasks such as handwriting, reading, and math.  It allows us to recognize the differences between the shapes and sizes of letters, to remember sight words, and to comprehend what we have read.  Visual memory is often described as a process by which we see an object in our “mind’s eye” and then retrieve a memory of that object in order to mentally identify it.

 

a.  Children who have difficulty with visual memory will often exhibit these signs:

(1)  Difficulty keeping up with his peers during handwriting tasks, needing to frequently “think about” the formation of the letters that form a word.

Visual Perceptual Skills:  The Keys to Learning, Part 3, Handwriting With Katherine
Sometimes children will appear bored when they are struggling with poor memory skills.

(2)  Difficulty copying from the board or a book, frequently losing his place and stopping to find the location of the last word he has written.

(3)  Demonstrates diminished comprehension after reading an age-appropriate story.

(4)  Difficulty following verbal directions that include over two-steps, usually only performing the last step that was provided to him.

(5) Demonstrates boredom and/or confusion during class or home work, tending to act as thought he was not interested in the task.

 

b. Activities that enhance visual memory include:

(1) Memory games, either board games or on-the-spot activities, provide “exercise” for the brain’s short-term memory.  Memory games can be constructed with everyday household items, such as feeding utensils, family photos, or crayons. Have the child look at them, name them verbally, and write them down, if he can.  If he is a beginning writer, have him draw a simple picture of each to enhance his memory.  Then, hide the items under a cloth and ask him to list them without using his vision.

(2) Copying pattern designs provides opportunities for children to use their visual short-term memory as they remember the colors or shapes that comprise the design.  Manipulatives, such as beads or blocks, enhance the development of visual memory by adding visual-motor input.

(3) Ask questions frequently that require the use of short-term memory, such as “What equipment did you use on the playground today?”  It also helps to reinforce any written directions with verbal ones, asking the child to repeat them to you to ensure that he has understood and remembered them.

 

6. Visual Sequential Memory is our ability to remember a series of numbers, letters, or objects that have been presented visually and to recall that sequence accurately.   We use this skill every day as we recall phone numbers or spell words such as “their” and “there.”

Sequential Memory I can teach my child
Story Sequencing is a fun way to enhance visual sequencing memory skills!

a. Children who have difficulty with visual sequential memory will often exhibit these signs:

(1) Difficulty remembering the alphabet or numbers in sequence.

(2) Difficulty sequencing letters in familiar words or numbers in a math problem.

(3) Difficulty copying from the board or a book without frequent errors.

(4) Difficulty recalling the sequence of events in a story or a familiar activity.

(5) Difficulty performing math problems.

 

 

 

b. Activities that enhance visual sequential memory include:

(1) Word search puzzles require a child to remember the sequence of letters that comprise the spelling of the word that he is locating on the page.

(2)  Board games that use numbers, letters, or words, such as bingo, provide opportunities to recall the shapes of letters and sequence of numbers or words.

(3) Movement games, such as Duck-Duck-Goose or Red Light-Green Light, require the child to remember the sequence of activities that comprise the rules of the game, as well as provide motor movement to enhance the development of memory skills.

 

 

Once again, it is clear to “see” that our vision skills are key facets in learning and literacy.

 

In the words of vision experts, 80% of what you perceive, comprehend and remember depends on the efficiency of the visual system.  And that makes vision an important detail to never overlook!

 

Please join us for the final segment in our journey of discovery as we unwrap the secrets of the Visual Form Constancy, Visual Closure, and Figure Ground skills!  Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Did you miss Parts 1 and 2?  You can get them here!

 

Part 1:  The Cotton Ball Game is an excellent "attention-getter!"
Part 1: The Cotton Ball Game is an excellent “attention-getter!”
Visual Perceptual Skills:  The Keys to Learning, Part 2, Handwriting With Katherine
Part 2: Problems with balance can sometimes signal poor body awareness skills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who owns and operates a clinic that specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills.  She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.

 

 

Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; the Wellness For Life:  Cape Cod blog; or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

Visual Perceptual Skills: The Keys to Learning – Part 1

Vision skills allow us to make sense of our bodies – how they work alone and how they work within the world around us.

Vision takes the lead in action-pro-action-and-reaction and is a cognitive skill developed in the brain.  In fact, our eyes are actually extensions of our brain.  Dr. David Hubel, and his collaborator, Dr. Torsten Wiesel, dedicated their research to discovering the ways that the brain processes information.  This journey lead to Hubel’s writing that Anatomy of the Eye Hot Air BalooningThe retina is part of the brain, having been sequestered from it early in development but having kept its connections with the brain proper through a bundle of fibers – the optic nerve.”   He hails the retina’s role in Visual Information Processing as one that “by translating light into nerve signals, it begins the job of extracting from the environment what is useful and ignoring what is redundant.  No human inventions, including computer-assisted cameras, can begin to rival the eye.”   And so, as we begin our discussion on visual information processing, we will soon discover for ourselves the profound effect that the work and writings of Dr. David Hubel and his coworkers had on our realization and understanding of the key role that vision plays in learning.

The skills we use to process visual information are often labeled as “Visual Perceptual Skills.”  This complex set of cognitive skills allows us to gather information and integrate it with our other senses.  This set includes:

·      Visual Attention
·      Visual Discrimination
·      Position in Space
·      Visual Spatial Relations
·      Visual Memory
·      Visual Sequential Memory
·      Visual Form Constancy
·      Visual Closure
·      Figure Ground

Visual Perceptual Skills: The Keys to Learning Part 1 Handwriting With Katherine

Learning takes place when an experience is registered as

(1) a new one or one that has been dealt with previously,

(2) a positive or negative interaction,

(3) one that is desirable to repeat,

(4) one that needs adaptation in order to be effective or pleasurable, and/or

(5) one that can be recalled, reproduced, or adapted for use again in the future.

Learning requires the ability to gather information, manipulate it, store it, and recall it automatically.  The process of visual perception, when it is efficient, provides us with the platform for doing just that.  As we discuss each of the 9 Visual Perceptual Skills, we will begin to develop our understanding of the significance of vision’s role in learning.

In this article, we will begin our journey of discovery with the first two skills:  

visual attention and visual discrimination.

1.  Visual Attention is “important for selecting and inhibiting visual information over space and over time.   It is a diverse et of operations that interact with other perceptual, motor, and cognitive systems.  As our eyes perceive the endless stream of information coming from our bodies and the environment, the brain operates a filter that helps us to focus on what is immediately important.  Visual attention is necessary for handwriting and the development of other higher-level visual perceptual skills and it needs to begin its development early in a child’s visual processing journey.

a.  Children who have difficulty with visual attention will often exhibit these signs:

(1)  Frequent fidgeting and/or cannot remain seated.
(2)  Often runs or climbs excessively or appears restless.
(3)  Appears not to be listening or fails to follow through with instructions.
(4)  Is easily distracted by external stimuli such as other children talking in the back of the room.
(5)  Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as handwriting or reading.

b.  Activities that enhance visual attention include:

(1)  Blowing through a straw encourages the eyes to pull together and work more effectively at close range.  The Cotton Ball Game is one that has the child blow through a straw to move a cotton ball toward

Visual Perceptual Skills: The Keys to Learning, Part 1 Handwriting With Katherine
The Cotton Ball Game is an excellent “attention-getter!”

a target, with or without visual guidance, such as masking tape from start to finish lines.  Whistles and blowing bubbles have the same effect and can include gross motor movement in their use, such as running to pop the bubble or marching to the whistle’s tune.

(2)  Balloon toss or tennis are excellent games to train the eyes to focus on a moving target.  Be sure to remind the child to try and maintain eye contact with the balloon as it travels away from and back toward him.

(3)  “I Spy,” hidden pictures, and memory games encourage the use of scanning and sustained focusing skills in close work tasks.  It is important to allow a struggling child to use his finger to search for hidden objects or to use his verbal skills to remember what he has seen in memory games.  As he becomes more proficient at the task, have him ease away from the “helping strategies.”

2.  Visual Discrimination is our ability to recognize the subtle differences and similarities between two visually represented forms in order to determine if they match or belong to a different group of forms.  This skill provides us with the perception of shape, size, and form for learning subjects such as handwriting and reading.

a.   Children who have difficulty with visual discrimination will often exhibit these signs:

(1)  Difficulty matching items of clothing such as socks or shoes.
(2)  Determining the difference between sizes of objects during sorting activities or the sizes of letters and numbers during handwriting tasks.
(3)  Difficulty detecting errors in handwritten work, such as letter reversals.
(4)  Difficulty matching pictures to verbal instructions, during yoga practice for example.
(5)  Frequently placing objects in the inappropriate place, such as the wrong cubby in school even though each is clearly marked with a name.

c.  Activities that enhance visual discrimination include:

(1)  Sorting games that involve activities of daily living, such as laundry or silverware from the dishwasher, will add a touch of “reality” to the game and enhance the likelihood for building memory and carryover to other educational activities, such as handwriting.

Sorting laundry is a “fun-ctional” visual discrimination activity!

(2)  Puzzles provide an excellent opportunity for a child to recognize differences (size, flat sides) and to use his visual skills as he manipulates them to match the correct “holes and spaces.”

(3)  Legos, Lincoln Logs, or tangrams provide visual and tactile activities using a picture to copy and shapes to manipulate in order to reproduce the picture into a 2- or 3-D object.

As you can “see” from this introduction to the visual perceptual skill set, it covers quite a bit of how we learn, as it starts right out with our ability to pay attention to the task and to details.  The eye is amazing, with the retina actually being a part of the brain.

In the words of Dr. Hubel, “The retina is part of the brain, having been sequestered from it early in development but having kept its connections with the brain proper through a bundle of fibers – the optic nerve

Please join us next week as we continue to explore the “rest of the visual perceptual skills story” with Position in Space and Visual Spatial Relations.

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, owner, Handwriting With Katherine

Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills. In her current book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation: A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists, she shares a comprehensive guide and consistent tool for addressing handwriting development needs. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.

Collmer Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation

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Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.

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