As children grow, there is a noticeable increase in their ability to understand the world around them. This learning depends to a large extent on their skill at recognising, interpreting and organising images through visual perception. Children with problems in this area have difficulties in reading, spelling, judging directions, copying from the board and in understanding math concepts such as space and shape. Participating in activities that improve visual discrimination, memory and impart the concept of spatial relationships can improve these skills. Exposing children to such activities during their early years will lay a strong foundation for further learning.
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Activities for Visual Discrimination
These activities are designed to allow children to distinguish between similar-looking objects. This helps children understand the difference between words that have the same letters, such as "tap" and "pat", or "was" and "saw." Various activities can be used to practice visual discrimination, such as picture puzzles where there are two pictures that appear same, but differ in some details. Show children some words that have capital letters in the middle of the word, and ask them to identify what appears different, and mark it out with red ink.
Activities for Visual Memory
Visual memory is the perceptual skill that helps in recalling information after seeing it once. This is the skill that helps kids reproduce numbers, letters and shapes they learn. This helps us remember places and locations, which is an essential component of navigation. Playing memory games is a good way of practicing this skill. Allow children to look at a picture for a minute, then take away the picture and ask them to recollect what objects were present in the picture. Prepare a tray containing a few random objects such as a pencil, eraser, crayon, beads, plastic money and paper clips, and let children take a look. After about a minute, remove the tray and ask them to list out all the objects they remember. Make children close their eyes and trace out the shape of an alphabet they have learnt.
Activities for Visual Spatial Relationships
Children need to be able to determine positions and directions of objects relative to each other. This skill is what helps us remember where we stopped reading, and to find objects we have misplaced. This is also important to understand charts and maps, and carry out math calculations that involve multiple digits and steps. Write out words and numbers, and a few incorrect ones in between. Ask children to find the ones that are wrong. Place alphabet shapes in a box, and ask children to close their eyes and identify the alphabet from its feel. Getting children to walk through an obstacle course is also a good way to hone this skill.
Activities for Visual Closure
Visual closure refers to the skill of visualising the complete picture when provided partial or incomplete information. This is what helps us grasp things quickly although we may not know everything about them. People who read fast have strong visual closure skills. Allow children to play with puzzles that involve joining bits to form a complete picture. Help them by giving tips on finding pieces that have the same shapes or colours.
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