Visual Spatial Learners?

"I just wish I had a projector on my head and you had a screen on yours, then you would understand what I am trying to tell you." (Adam aged 9, a gifted visual spatial learner).

Strengths of the Visual Spatial Learner

• Wholistic, sees the big picture, makes connections easily

• Processes information visually, internally, in great detail

• Strong desire for detail, perfection and intrinsic satisfaction in their work

• Vivid imagery, imaginative ideation, outside the box approaches

• Deep focus on complex tasks or projects of choice

• Acutely perceptive of body language, others' emotions, and environmental cues.

• Thrives on novelty, complexity and depth in problems with real-world applications.

• Invents own system of ordering the world

• Memorizes how to get somewhere after a single visit, or find new locations effortlessly

• Very perceptive to sound, color, shapes and space 

• Loves building, making models, Lego, puzzles, jigsaws, computer games, television, likes art and/or music

image from digital




I took apart my my toys

Challenges faced by the Visual Spatial Learner

• Struggles with sequential, rote and part-to-whole teaching, lists of facts

• May not seem to be listening, seems to be daydreaming, slow to respond to auditory input

• Difficulty finishing tasks/school work, work is never quite good enough. Not driven by extrinsic rewards.

• Difficulty with handwriting, or translating ideas and stories into words on paper, communicating complex ideas.

• Senses time differently, loses track of time, chronically late

• Extremely sensitive to criticism, may react emotionally to perceived input

• Struggles with spelling, times tables, computation and basic processes

• May appear to be very disorganised,

• Has trouble following multi-step auditory directions, loses track and drifts

• Physically sensitive, acute hearing, intense reactions to loud noises, lights, clothing tags, etc

Building on these strengths

• Use mindmaps, graphic organizers, visuals, video, to enhance and support visual processing

• Look for patterns, word families, visualize words & spell backwards, draw word pictures

• Use color coded calendar, digital reminders and alarms, realistic time management

play word image

Working around these challenges

• Reveal the big picture first, create a sense of context - then fill in details

• Use rubrics or checklists, differentiate between excellence and perfection

• Provide bridges for translating internal imagery into non-written forms (voice recording, dictation, pictures, video, speech-to-text, mind map, graphic novel)

• Separate grades for mechanics and conceptual understanding/ideas

• Increase the difficulty, complexity of problems & allow the use of calculators, focus on strategy and problem-solving

• Break tasks into smaller chunks with frequent short deadlines, small rewards for getting started

• Teach them to visualize each step of multi-step directions, "make a movie in your head"

• Limit exposure to fluorescent lighting, unpredictable ambient noise, other distracting physical input. Colored lenses, noise filters and soft clothing can all help

Jeffrey Freed explores the convergence of gifted visual spatial characteristics with ADD/ADHD type behaviors, and shares strategies for school success, in his book Right Brained Kids in a Left Brained World.


Read more


I Think in Pictures, You Teach in Words, an article by Leslie Sword

Eye to Eye, Connecting with Visual Spatial Learners, a PowerPoint by Rebecca Mann

Visit for a gold mine of articles and resources for parents, students and teachers learning about visual spatial learning. Allie Golon has posted several articles especially for frustrated parents, so scroll down about halfway.


Raising Topsy-Turvy Kids: Successfully Parenting Your Visual-Spatial Child, by Allie Golon

If You Could See the Way I Think: A Handbook for Visual-Spatial Kids

Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner, by Dr. Linda Silverman,

Quick Links
Educational links to websites for kids • The ArtsLanguagesMathScienceSocial Studies

Delta County Special Services • 1002 Hastings St. • Delta, CO • 81416

Phone: (970) 874-7607 • FAX: (970) 874- 9505

Sandie Jungers - Special Services Director • Jodeen Stephenson - GT Coordinator

Link to Parent pages Link to Student pages Link to Teacher resources General Information about GT Special Services Home Child Find Home Special Education Home Transition Program Home Gifted and Talented HomeThe dark side of perfectionism Section 504 Home School Perfectionism - the dark side Drive your life from passion Take your brain out and play with it! Intensities - beauty and the beast Embrace your inner OUTLIER