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Organizational Skills for Visual-Spatial Learners
Most, if not all, visual-spatial learners (VSL) are accused of being hopelessly disorganized. However, in my experience, these right-hemisphere learners (think “distracted teachers”) can really find a needle in a haystack. My son, Matt, for example, whose bedroom on any given day may look like multiple tornadoes have struck, never ceases to amaze me in his ability to locate the perfect LEGOTM piece he was looking for.
It is important to note in the illustration above that, as long as everyone is able to find precisely what they need, in a reasonable time, no way of organizing one is better than that of the other. ‘other. This is an area where “everyone to himself” is the rule. If someone (probably a teacher or parent) forced the child on the right to “organize” like the child on the left did, they would probably never find another document. His new system, or structure, of organization would be completely alien to him, and he would not be able to imagine, or see, where his things were.
Organization for many VSLs is a stumbling block. If your visuospatial children find that they are losing important documents (like homework!), toys, or money, they need to start developing and implementing an organization system. However, the new method must belong to them. It just won’t work to try to organize under someone else’s system (like a parent). If you think green folders are appropriate for all science work, for example, but green doesn’t make sense to your kids in terms of connecting the papers to science, then they can’t use this system . They must create their own meaningful strategies that they can understand and remember. Here’s how to help them get started:
Be sure to visit office supply stores and other places that sell a variety of products designed to help with organization. Color-coded envelopes, binders, and pocket folders are great for storing specific papers. Colored index cards are a great tool for note taking, and using a Day-Timer or Palm Pilot to record due dates and appointments are all tools available to the learner. visual-spatial. Have you ever wondered why so many organizational products have hit the market in recent years? These must be the inventions of the spatial-visuals among us to help themselves and others like them.
Linda Leviton, a member of the Visual-Spatial Resource Access team and a visual-spatial learner herself, writes:
VSLs are either horizontal or vertical organizers…if they’re horizontal, they need a long table (preferably not deep) to pull out (and set aside) work in progress. If they are vertical, they need places to create stacks. I bought myself one of those paper sorters with bins and have it right next to my computer (with labels for each section) and that’s how I do it. (L. Leviton, personal communication, May 31, 2004)
When we were homeschooling, each of my children used a teacher’s planner to record their daily homework. In fact, sometimes assignments for different subjects were saved in different colors. There are several varieties of planners available, including those that show a week at a glance or a month at a glance. You can find them at local teacher supply stores. Encourage your kids to choose one that provides enough space to write or draw important notes about due dates, expectations, homework details, and other appointments. We also used these planners as checklists, which added to my kids’ sense of accomplishment as they checked off each assignment.
Linda Leviton also advised:
As for homework, I have a word for you… pockets. Forget filing cabinets and holes in things. They need something they can put papers in, and if you color code the pockets, you’re more likely to get the right paper in the right pocket. My preference is a folder with each class having its own colored pockets (one in the front and one in the back)…the front is for work in progress or something to turn in, the back is for reference or past work. Don’t expect them to punch holes or get papers in sections that involve opening or closing anything; stuffing is what they do best! (L. Leviton, personal communication, May 31, 2004)
Matt’s personal method of making sure he doesn’t forget to bring his homework binder, lunch box and water bottle to school every day is to stack them all in their place on the kitchen table. Then, when he’s finished lunch, he immediately takes it all to the car. The few times he left one of those items somewhere other than the kitchen table, they didn’t go to school.
Another tip for organizing visual-spatial children and helping them stay that way is to try to maintain a consistent schedule from week to week. I know it’s really hard these days with so many competing schedules in a family and extracurricular activities to choose from, but consistency should help your family get organized and stay organized. Knowing that every Tuesday afternoon they have a sports practice or every Friday afternoon a lesson with a musical instrument, followed by homework, chores, dinner, time in front of the television or computer, can help you plan your day accordingly and find time for everything you need to do. .
A large calendar to record each family member’s schedule is also useful. Use it to show everyone’s commitments, from sports practices to work schedules, excursion days to long-term assignments, vacations and other days off. I’ve found that encouraging my kids to log homework due dates three to four days before the actual due date has really helped avoid last-minute sleepless nights. The extra built-in time leaves room for editing, project revisions, and more. and a more relaxed approach to the deadline. Having a master calendar also allows visual-spatial learners (known for having a huge sense of space but lacking a sense of time) to see how long until Christmas, the last day of school, their birthday, or their birthday. other events they anticipate.
Teach your children to use the computer to get organized! There are a number of programs that include calendars, ways to notify them of due dates (in advance), and they can create note files on certain assignments. They will probably use and depend on a personal computer for the rest of their lives. Introduce them to the computer products available to help them organize their schoolwork and home life.
There are certain traps for visuospatial children, traps that their brains love to be trapped in almost reluctantly. The traps, precisely, are the computer and the television. Due to the use of visual images, the right hemisphere is strongly attracted (some might say addicted?) to these entertainment boxes. Consider creating a specific time during the day or week for computer and television use. If this is incorporated into the family schedule, it is easier to understand why mom imposes homework time at a certain time and does not allow procrastination or distraction from the television or computer to turn in dispute. We use a timer in our house to eliminate disputes over what time the video game or TV show started. The timer is not arbitrary. The bell rings, the round is over.
“A place for everything and everything in its place” – not an easy trick for visual-spatial children, but a technique that will last them a lifetime. I rarely lose my car keys because they go to the exact same place every time I get home. We have a small shelf reserved for library books, so when the due date comes around, we don’t rush to find them. I believe it’s important that kids have their bedrooms the way they want them, but they need to be able to locate their clothes, sports equipment, and other items in a timely manner. At home we also insist that there is no food in the bedroom (yuck!) and that there is a clear path from the door to the bedside in case we have to go there at night – there had too many episodes of bare feet on toys to count! Inexpensive containers, even shoeboxes and plastic food bins, make great sorting accessories for small toys. We maintain an entire closet exclusively for construction toys.
Advanced preparation is essential. Ask your children to prepare backpacks and lunch boxes the night before. Sometimes we even charge the car the night before to try and take the hassle out of the morning. The next day’s clothes must be chosen the night before, Matt spreads his at the end of his bed. Where we live, the weather changes frequently and without notice, so we keep the car prepared with extra light jackets, sometimes a full change of clothes, and always snacks.
With a little practice and trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t, your visual-spatial kids can probably get organized and stay that way!
©Copyright held by Alexandra Shires Golon (2004). De Golon, AS, RaisingTopsy-Turvy Kids: Successfully Parenting Your Visual-Spatial Child, Denver (2004): DeLeon Publishing.
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