Let’s look at visual discrimination

Visual discrimination is the ability to identify specific characteristics of viewed objects including size, color, shape, and details to name a few.  It is easy to understand the important role visual discrimination skills play in every aspect of learning.  To differentiate between letters and numbers, for example, a child would have to notice slight, but important differences in formation.  Imagine the visual discrimination skills needed to differentiate and identify the numbers 3 and 8, for example, or the letters N and M or P and R.

It’s never too early to begin playing games with children that present opportunities to practice visual discrimination.  Once spoken language is understood, a young toddler can be directed to pick up the round ball when shown a ball and a shoe, for instance.  Young children enjoy following commands in a game situation.  Try placing two or three different objects on the floor and direct your child to grab a specific object and bring it to you or put it in a box or basket set out in the room.

Colorful visual discrimination worksheets also offer engaging opportunities for children to hone visual discrimination skills.  The worksheets titled “Identical” in the Compare and Contrast category of the Visual Discrimination section of worksheets ask children to look at the first picture in a row and find the identical picture in that row.  As your child’s visual discrimination ability increases, he will be able to spot the identical picture in rows with more choices to view, moving from the beginning level worksheets to the intermediate level worksheets.  The advanced level “Identical” worksheets ask children to look at the entire row and spot the one picture that is not identical to the others.

Challenging visual discrimination worksheets

When your child demonstrates comfort with the compare and contrast worksheets, you can create some visual discrimination games yourself.

  • The “I Spy” game is always popular with young children and is an ideal way to practice visual discrimination when waiting at a doctor’s office or in line at the bank or grocery store.  This game requires children to attend to details in objects seen in their environment and can also be a wonderful way to help reinforce knowledge of colors, as the color of the object can be a major clue.
  • Cut index cards in half to yield 2 1/2” x 3” rectangles.  On two cards write the identical uppercase or lower case letter.  On two additional cards, write different, but somewhat similar letters and place the four cards in a row.  For example, you may have a row of these four cards: W V X W.  Then ask your child to pick the two identical cards in the row.  You can make this game as easy or as challenging as you like.
  • Create a row of alike and different utensils and ask your child to choose the two that are alike.  Using soup spoons with teaspoons or salad forks with dinner forks can add to the challenge since the size, not the shape, of the items must be recognized to discern the identical pieces.
  • Look at pictures in storybooks or magazines with your child and ask her to spot specific items.  Once again, you can create a game that is as difficult or easy as your child’s skill level dictates.  When the picture is correctly found, your child can draw a circle around it with a pencil or crayon.

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