Step up visual discrimination this summer

Summer is a great time for children to hone very important visual discrimination skills. Visual discrimination is the ability to spot and identify details in images. You can quickly understand how vital this skill is to a child learning to read or work with numbers. A young student must be able to recognize the specific elements in printed letters so that he can remember the shape and then the name (and later the sound) of each letter. To add to the difficulty of this task, many letters have similar formations. For example, the letters P, B and R all start with the P formation. The N, V, M and W are also quite similar. And the list can go on:  O, Q, C and D are similar in their formation as are J and L or E and F. Numerals also have similarities that must be recognized. Look at these potentially confusing pairs: 3 & 8, 6 & 9, and 2 & 5. Even before young children are introduced to letter and numeral formations, they can begin to sharpen their visual discrimination skills and learn to look for details in objects or pictures that they see.

Activities to hone visual discrimination skills

  • Play the familiar “I Spy” game and ask your child to spot specific items. Make the game more challenging by adding details to your descriptions. For example, you might start by asking your child to “spy” something blue or red. But as her skills improve, you can add specific details to spot. For instance, you might ask your child to find a round object that is blue with white spots (a ball, perhaps) or is green with a red hat (a toy frog).Ask your child to find details in the illustrations she sees when you read her picture books. Name a specific detail in the illustration and ask her to point to it.Use fun pieces of snack foods to create a visual discrimination game. For example, place 3 or 4 goldfish crackers in a row in front of your child. Break a small piece of the cracker off one goldfish and ask your child to spot the snack that looks different. Of course, she can eat all of the snacks once she has picked out the different one. Perhaps you can find four strawberries that are alike except for one that still has some of the green leaf at the top or is bigger than the others. Use your imagination and both you and your child will have fun with this game.Take one of your child’s toys and show it to her. Then ask her to cover her eyes while you make a change to the toy. (You could take a shoe off a doll or tie a ribbon around a stuffed animal’s neck, for instance.)  Ask your child to identify the change that you made.

Introduce the School Sparks Visual Discrimination worksheets

There are numerous challenging visual discrimination worksheets dedicated to providing practice with visual discrimination.

Challenging visual discrimination worksheets

And I would certainly recommend that your child have an opportunity to complete all of them. The worksheets on identifying identical pictures have either three or four rows of pictures. If you find that your child is having difficulty focusing on the pictures in just one row, try folding the worksheet page to display one row at a time. If your child’s fine motor skills are still developing and drawing a circle around the answer is challenging, you may certainly draw the circle for her once she has pointed to her answer. Or you may choose to cut out all the pictures and place the three or four pictures from each row in front of your child, asking her to then pick up the two matching pictures or, in the case of the advanced worksheets, pick out the picture that does not belong.

Once your child’s visual discrimination skills are progressing, show her the worksheets on matching pictures to shadows. Again, you can draw the line for your child once she identifies the matching pictures if her pencil control is still developing. Or you can cut out all of the pictures and the “shadows” and ask her to place matching pictures side by side on the table.

Finally, a child with beginning visual discrimination skills and no knowledge of letters can have fun with the ten distinguishing letters worksheets by using the sheets in a different way than the instructions direct. Simply make two copies of each worksheet and cut the letters and symbols out on both worksheets. Then scramble the pairs and place them in random order on the table. Ask your child to make matches by finding two identical letters or symbols. Come back to these pages when your child is beginning to recognize letter formations for more opportunities to practice and sharpen visual discrimination skills.

If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe via RSS or via e-mail:

spread the word...

share your thoughts...