Right-Brained (Visual-Spatial) Learner Resources

As I have mentioned before, Jason is a right-brained learner (also known as a visual-spatial learner). The realization of this was a huge turning point in our homeschooling journey. It totally changed (for the better) the way that I approach things with him and has helped me understand him and where he is coming from. I have also learned a lot about myself (as I am a left-brained learner but never realized it). I have realized that I am not a visual person, but rather a feeling/relationship person, which is kind of a cool thing to know.

Before I identified Jason’s learning style I felt like I was hitting my head against a brick wall. He resisted active “teaching” and often my way of explaining things seemed to confuse him. My approach was all wrong, but I did not know why.

How do I know if my child is a Right-Brained or Visual-Spatial Learner?

If you want to “take a test”, try the Tickle: Brain Test. I am not claiming that it is 100% accurate (it is only an online test afterall), but it might give you the general idea (don’t feel like you have to pay for the extra information they want to sell you…you can find that type of info many other places).

Personally I think that the article The Visual-Spatial Learner: An Introduction by Linda Kreger Silverman is a great place to start and gives a great overview of visual-spatial traits. Read it and see if you recognize your child. If you do, you might want do a little more in-depth reading on the subject. The following table from the article highlights the main differences between right brained (visual-spatial) thinkers and left brained (auditory-sequential) thinkers:

Thinks primarily in words Thinks primarily in pictures
Has auditory strengths Has visual strengths
Relates well to time Relates well to space
Is a step-by-step learner Is a whole-part learner
Learns by trial and error Learns concepts all at once
Progresses sequentially from easy to difficult material Learns complex concepts easily; struggles with easy skills
Is an analytical thinker Is a good synthesizer
Attends well to details Sees the big picture; may miss details
Follows oral directions well Reads maps well
Does well at arithmetic Is better at math reasoning than computation
Learns phonics easily Learns whole words easily
Can sound out spelling words Must visualize words to spell them
Can write quickly and neatly Prefers keyboarding to writing
Is well-organized Creates unique methods of organization
Can show steps of work easily Arrives at correct solutions intuitively
Excels at rote memorization Learns best by seeing relationships
Has good auditory short-term memory Has good long-term visual memory
May need some repetition to reinforce learning Learns concepts permanently; is turned off by drill and repetition
Learns well from instruction Develops own methods of problem solving
Learns in spite of emotional reactions Is very sensitive to teachers’ attitudes
Is comfortable with one right answer Generates unusual solutions to problems
Develops fairly evenly Develops quite asynchronously
Usually maintains high grades May have very uneven grades
Enjoys algebra and chemistry Enjoys geometry and physics
Learns languages in class Masters other languages through immersion
Is academically talented Is creatively, mechanically, emotionally, or technologically gifted
Is an early bloomer Is a late bloomer

Where can I learn more about this type of learning style?

If you see your child in this description, then check out Linda Kreger Silverman’s book Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner. A very good overview of visual-spatial learners and how they learn differently then what is traditionally taught in schools. This book gave me a lot of insight into Jason’s learning style. The only thing that I don’t like about the book is the emphasis she puts on IQ testing…even though she admits that testing does not always give good results with right brained kids! She also focuses on highly gifted kids and that can be intimidating (especially if your kid was not making maps of the neighborhood at age 2!) But that is where she is coming from, so she spends a fair amount of time on the subject. There is definitely enough good info in the book to make it worth reading though.

Another good book with practical suggestions for helping right brained learners learn is Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of Your ADD Child by Jeffrey Freed. Although it is subtitled Unlocking the Potential of Your ADD Child, this is more of a book about right-brained kids then it is about ADD (Freed makes the point that most ADD kids are right brained and that is the type of kid he worked most often with). Jason does not have ADD but I found much that was applicable to him in this book. It really helped me better understand how Jason thinks.

And of course a list of resources would not be complete without an email list! A really informative email list that discusses homeschooling these creative kids is Homeschooling Creatively. The list mom is an online friend of mine who first suggested that I look into right brained kids for which I am eternally grateful! Cindy is a wonderful resource (she has 7 kids, many of whom are creative learners) as are the other parents on the list.

Some final thoughts

I had always thought that right-brained people were more traditionally creative types like musicians, artists, dancers, etc. None of which I really identified with Jason. He has never really been drawn towards any kind of musical instrument, he has fine motor issues and hates writing/drawing/coloring and does not really like painting or other art.

Yet, once I started looking into it more in depth, I began to recognize a lot of Jason in the descriptions. Since then I have realized that there are many ways to be creative…although Jason has shown no interest in playing an instrument (yet), he is actually extremely musical. He notices music and often makes comments on how it makes him feel. He will go into the extras on his video games and play the different music themes and pick his favorite (it drives Kyle crazy when he does this!) He has a definite sense of rhythm and likes music with a strong beat. He notices the music in movies and how it is used to make you feel…our favorites happen to be Star Wars. There are so many other things (he has a very good eye for photography for instance) that I have noticed, now that I am paying attention and I am seeing that creativity can take very many forms.