Preparing for the Visual Spatial Learner

I get the opportunity to work with bright kids every week. More than ever before I see a type of thinking I’ll refer to as visual-spatial. Here are a few of the characteristics:

  • Think whole to part rather than in series of steps.
  • Frequently doesn’t care about organization.
  • See images rather than words.
  • Are often late readers.
  • Creative speller.
  • Has a wild imagination.
  • Often ‘gets it’ but can’t explain why.
  • Finds it easier to tell rather than write.
  • Solves problems in unique ways.

Why are the number of these types of learners increasing? Well, just look at how visual our world has become. A child is bombarded with visual stimuli from the time they are born and it increases each year. They are pushed to use more of their right brain which in turn, I believe, causes a misbalance in their development. It is encouraging to observe, time seems to help many of them catch up with proper support.

What does this mean for writers? If you look at the most popular books for middle readers (roughly ages 8-12), they either supply humorous visual pictures, i.e. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, The Nate books, and a new one for this year,  Timmy Failure or they paint a vivid picture with words… Harry Potter…of course and this year’s Newberry winner, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Here is a sample paragraph:

At the Big Top Mall, a creaky-music carousel spins all day, monkeys and parrots live amid the merchants. In the middle of the mall is a ring with benches where humans can sit on their rumps while they eat soft pretzels. The floor is covered with sawdust from dead trees.

I get the picture with that description. As writers, you will need to keep this in mind. Do your sentences invoke an image in your mind? Are you painting a picture with your words? To be successful, the writing craft must be prepared for these new readers.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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