In Part 3 of this series we take a look at another important skill involving vision called Visual Spatial Processing. The affect that this system has on learning is quite profound. Students who struggle with visual spatial processing may have:
- difficulty making visual images to “see something in the mind’s eye” or “get the picture”
- difficulty remembering and differentiating left and right
- difficulty in combining disconnected, vague or partially hidden visual information patterns into a meaningful whole
- difficulty manipulating simple visual patterns or maintaining their orientation to see things in space
- difficulty mentally manipulating objects or visual patterns to see how they would appear if altered or rotated in space
- difficulty finding a path through a spatial field or pattern
- difficulty in estimating or comparing visual lengths and distances without measuring them
- difficulty understanding mathematics concepts in geometry, calculus and other higher math
- difficulty in remembering letter formations and letter patterns
- difficulty in reading charts, maps and blueprints and extracting the needed information
- difficulty arranging materials in space, such as in their desks or lockers or rooms at home
- difficulty catching all visual details
- difficulty copying information from far point, like the blackboard or from near point, like texts
Enhancing these skills vs. reducing their use
When designing instructional strategies around visual spatial processing, a common approach is to reduce the use of visual spatial processing opting for more language based processing so that the student can keep up with the flow of the lesson.
Rather, create opportunities for students to strengthen their visual spatial skills because they much more capable of solving problems in the future having worked on this skill.
Physical challenges that focus on body awareness is a fun and easy place to start building this skill as well as sharpen executive functions like planning, organization and evaluating.
Here’s one example of a “comparing” workout:
10 meter Bear crawl forward
5 narrow stance squats
5 wide stance squats
5 toes out squats
5 natural stance squats
10 meter Bear crawl backward
3 rounds for time followed by reflection questions like “Which type of squat did you feel the most stable? Which bear crawl was faster?”
Take this activity one step further and develop a challenge with a specific goal. This will get the individual to Visualize, Plan, Verbalize, Execute then Reflect how they will complete the task.
Example of a “goal setting” workout:
Get over the box then, broad jump to the wall 5 Rounds.
Rule: You must get over the box a different way each round (record how) and estimate the number of jumps it will take you to get to the other side before you begin each round.
It’s important for each individual to have a written copy of their plan for reflection and tracking. Individuals who have difficulty writing should doodle or make some kind of shorthand visual representation of their box jump tactics followed by their broad jump estimations. For example, a student may use their left foot first so they would write the letter L and draw a foot.
Again, this is a way to DEVELOP the visual spatial skills not reduce the use.
Try out some other Visual Spatial Activities here.