Siblings never seem to be alike. If one says “Yes” the other says “No.” It’s like they have two very different working minds. Take for example these two fictional brothers, Jake and Josh.
Jake is 12 and rarely gets any grade lower than an A. His room is an organized masterpiece. Everything has a place and order is important. He thrives on steps, schedules and listening. Reading and writing are his favorite subjects. Jake is a low maintenance child.
Josh is 11 and barely scrapes by in school. His room is a disaster. He knows it and doesn’t care. If he needs something, he’ll be able to find it. Time is of no use for Josh and he frequently is lost in his own visual world. He’s a selective listener. Josh is best when taking things apart or creating new ideas. He gets the big picture but rarely sees the parts. He dislikes writing and never reads for pleasure. It takes a village to raise a child like Josh.
Jake and Josh each have a lot to offer. They both have a whole brain, although wired a bit differently. Jake is predominately a left brain thinker while Josh slips to the right brain side for most tasks. Neither relies solely on one side or the other but their preferred style of thinking has its roots in either the right or left.
I’ve worked with both types of kids and when it came time to create a main character in my first novel, Half Brain, I opted for a voice and actions similar to Josh. I expanded the description above by giving my protagonist, Hender, a fantastic autobiographical memory that serves his goal of finding the truth about his father.
Besides being a compelling MC, both Josh and Hender give parents and teachers fits. Here are a few techniques that I’ve found works with many who have similar characteristics:
- Have eye to eye contact when giving directions.
- If you have a task you want them to do, have them visualize it first. “After I finish talking, go to your room, pick up all your dirty clothes and put them in the hamper, etc.”
- Give them choice in learning. “Complete the task by doing one of the three choices.”
- They should have two different colored folders. One for completed work; the other for stuff still to be done. It should be checked daily.
- Encourage organization but don’t make it the total focus. Celebrate small steps and small victories.
- Find ways for them to have success.
Visual spatial learners are an important aspect of my writing. I’m currently writing a sequel, NO BRAINER. It further explores the wonders of Hender and his visual-spatial mind as he attempts to solve a mystery.
Visual learners are also a needed component in our world. They are the creative problem solvers, the builders, and the artists so important in many careers. They just have to survive schools who may not understand them or authors like me putting them in crazy, impossible situations.