Reading Comprehension and Attention in the Visual-Spatial Learner

Visual-spatial learners have visual strengths, but what do you do when your visual-spatial learner doesn’t picture things in his head while reading?  With the help of some parents in the homeschooling community I have stumbled on something big for us.

My visual-spatial learner reads well, but when he was reading silently retention was next to nothing sometimes.  In the past we have spent quite a bit of time working on improving auditory skills because this child really struggled to attend to a book without pictures.  We spent a school year focusing on baby steps moving from books with pictures and lots of words to chapter books with a few pictures.  Now, a couple years later, attending to books read aloud isn’t a problem at all.

In the last year or so I’ve been hesitant to change my son’s primary reading aloud time to silent reading.  I must say that teaching a visual-spatial learner is a learning process for me.  It keeps me on my toes.  This year was no exception when I discovered that my child had better retention hearing a book instead of reading it.  I’ve gone through educational testing with this child so I was fully aware of my son’s strong visual abilities.  He just wasn’t using them at all during reading.  He repeatedly said he saw nothing in his head when he was reading.

A couple knowledgeable homeschooling moms recommended a resource to me – Visualizing and Verbalizing.  I had a look at it and it was designed to help a child learn to picture sentences and paragraphs in his head.  I sat down with my son and tried a few of the sample workbook exercises from the website.  Wow!  When he went through the exercises he had instant retention for the non-fiction paragraph.  He remembered details easily.  I was shocked and my son was pretty pleased with himself.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I actually have the workbook portion of Visualizing and Verbalizing in our house.  My son has done a couple lessons.  On a particularly busy day last week I had him do a couple of the workbook pages by himself.  I didn’t look at his work that day.  The weekend came and went and this past Monday I sat down with him and asked him to retell me the paragraph he had read several days before.  He did IN GREAT DETAIL!  I know visual-spatial learners tend to be all at once kind of learners, but I never expected this.  Needless to say we will be continuing to use this resource and once this process becomes easier for him I will have to figure out how to connect his visual skills with other things like spelling and math facts.

I love how the homeschooling community helps one another.  I am grateful for the time and knowledge a few moms shared with me so that I could better teach my child.


  1. I about fell over when I read this post!

    I pulled my daughter out of public school at the end of 8th grade. While we have made great strides with math (she actually does some now instead of crying), getting her to tell me what she just read was another story altogether.

    Just like your son, she could follow when I read to her, but not when she was reading silently by herself. So I just asked her what she “sees” when she reads to herself. She said “nothing”. BIG LIGHT BULB MOMENT!

    I looked at the Visualizing and Verbalizing Website, but I’m not sure where to locate the samples you wrote about. Also not sure where I would need to start her.

  2. Hello,

    I am so glad I found your blog. I am not a visual-spatial person, but one of my sons is. I was wondering what did you buy from Gander Publishing? Were just the workbooks sufficient? Or did you buy the complete kit (which is quite expensive)?


    • Eclectic Homeschooling

      I went with just the workbook, although I’m pretty comfortable with using a product like this due to my professional background in Speech-Language Pathology. I’d check out the samples and try a few with your child to see how just the workbook works out for you.

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