Today we discuss how children learn and the benefits of using visual supports in the learning process. We also share two examples of the visual supports that we use frequently in sessions with young children and that come in handy at home and school as well.

Let’s start by throwing some light on why experts say visuals for kids are so effective.

Why use visuals?

Children (and adults) are visually wired – 50% of our brains are involved in visual processing, 70% of all of our sensory receptors are in our eyes and we get the sense of a picture in 1/10th of a second. Typically, in 3 days we remember: 10% of all we hear, 35% of all we see and 65% of all we see and hear at the same time.

To further illustrate the point:

Comprehension is increased by 95% when using pictures alongside text and kids follow directions with visuals 323% better, than instructions just with text.

We also know that visuals help by reducing anxiety and resistance to change, they aid children with challenging behaviour, boost motivation and understanding and serve as a tool to assist with transitions.

What visuals can I use?

Two of the most frequently used visuals at Active Speech Pathology are:

  1. First/Then board

Learning through Visual Supports
This helps teach logical sequences of events, e.g., “First wash hands, then eat.” A first/then board visually clarifies step-by-step instructions and help motivate children to engage in a less-preferred activity, knowing that a preferred activity will follow.

2. Session Schedule

Creating schedules helps in several ways including showing the sequence of events to come and what new activities will occur.

To make a visual schedule for your child, use a maximum 6-7 visuals in sequence. Choose pictures or photos that are general enough, e.g., “lunch time” rather than specific food.  Label each picture with the same words that you will use to refer to the activity.

Remember to place visuals at your child’s height, so they can refer to and interact with them. To maximise the effect, point at the pictures to help the kid learn and stress the main words as you say them.