Even the most seasoned teachers and homeschool families struggle teaching one subject: writing. Finding the best homeschool curriculum for writing can be one of the biggest challenges that parents face. In our 25 years of serving homeschool families, we’ve learned that the foundation of teaching your child to write well is knowing their learning style. Without this key understanding, you could be confusing your student, using lessons in a learning style that does not speak to your child, which simply will not work. Worse, it’s going to be frustrating for both of you!
That’s why we’ve compiled the best homeschool writing curriculum and teaching tips in our writing series. If you’re still unsure of your child’s learning style, we have developed myriad resources for you to lean on, including our Learning Style Assessment, and Buzzfeed Community quiz. Once you understand how your child learns, you can build lesson plans tailored to fit their needs. To help you do this, we are tackling one of the more complicated learning styles to teach: visual learners.
Over the next few weeks, we will be posting a how-to guide to teach visual learners by subject matter. Today we’re tackling writing.
Understanding the visual learner
Visual learners retain information by seeing, so they need to be able to use their eyes throughout the learning process. They need images, pictures, colors, maps, etc. to organize information and communicate with others.
When it comes to homeschool teaching tips for visual learners, focus on what appeals to the eyes. Think visual art, architecture, photography, video or film, computer design as these types of lesson tools make the most use of the visual style.
However, make sure you understand that visual learners will have to make their internal visualizations of new material stand out more in order to comprehend it — this ensures that new material is easy to recall and stands out among all the other visual images they have floating around inside their heads. You can do this by keeping writing lessons interesting, fun, and about more than just words. Here are some tips.
How to teach writing to the visual learner
The first step to teaching a visual learner to write well is asking them to lay out their ideas in a visual way by using charts, graphs, and models. Here’s how:
- Color coding is a great habit that can help your student better organize and see what they are writing; your visual can color code certain ideas or words that they plan to use in their writing. For instance, break up an essay assignment into paragraphs, and have your student color code words in their notes according to paragraph – red words for the first paragraph, green for the second, and so on.
- Illustrations are a creative way to write and ensure that your student understands what they will be writing about. Have your visual learners draw up examples of what they are trying to get across in their writing. (Comics and visual boards are great tools to help them gather all of their ideas and ground their thoughts.)
- A word list can be hung in the classroom prominently, where students can refer to it frequently while writing. When your student learns a new vocabulary word, have them write it out in a colorful, unique, and visually aesthetic style, and add it to the list.
- Encourage your visual learner to be organized and give lots of space in their writing so that they are not overwhelmed by what’s on the paper. Allow your visual learner to break their papers up into distinct, separate parts and sections as they build out the first drafts.
- Using colored paper and pens is an easy way to have your student’s needs as a visual learner incorporated effortlessly in all projects. Have your visual learner write on different colored paper for each subject or use colored pens to distinguish between different points in a piece of writing. The different colors brings more organization to their writing and separates different points and areas. You can use this strategy with a paragraph, essay or a binder to give visual organization.
- Keep the “big picture” and goal of the writing assignment in their mind constantly. Similar to the way we outline writing pieces with numerals and bullet points, have your student create a visual outline of their main topic, and storyboard out each point. This can then be referred to as they draft especially when studying its parts or details.
- Use illustrated flashcards. Before you begin writing, create flashcards that have a keyword that is important to the topic on one side, and then a picture of what the word means on the other side. Use them to quiz your student, having them identify the word by the picture, and then flip the cards over and quiz them using the word side up to ensure complete saturation.
- Don’t just use books, but work in alternative sources of visual material when you introduce writing topics, including videos, and PowerPoint demonstrations, graphs, maps, and other media.
- When using textbooks, allow your student to take 15 minutes to look through the titles, charts, graphs, and pictures. This will help them firmly grasp the overall idea of the content before reading a chapter, and writing out content.
- Use different colored highlighters to emphasize important material.
- Allow, and encourage doodling! Permit your visual learner to write or illustrate in the margins of their notes to emphasize important material.
Teaching visual learners is a true joy! These learners are set up for success; once they have a picture in their head, they’ve got it! This trait carries over well into writing – the clear pictures these students form in their head will serve them well when it comes to putting content into words. The actionable homeschool teaching tips in this blog post will help you craft your homeschool middle school and high school writing curriculums.