• Raffi Bandarian

3 Benefits of Visual Imaging

Updated: Jun 26, 2019

Albert Einstein once said, “If I can’t picture it, I can’t understand it.” And it turns out that this is a critical concept about how we all learn.

It is important to teach kids at a young age to make pictures or images in their mind’s eye. Ingeniously yet simply stated, Einstein words explain the important role of using the right hemisphere, the hemisphere in charge of visualization, imagination, and creativity. For young learners, imaging is vital for academic, social, and emotional development.


1. Improve Following Directions

One benefit of concept imagery is the ability to follow directions. Kids with weak concept imagery ask directions to be repeated more than once. In turn, these kids often return having forgotten the steps that they have been asked to perform. Words "go in one ear and out the other.”

Make following directions into a game. For little kids, parents can create a pile of objects in one room and ask the child in another room, to go and retrieve one, then graduate to two, then three objects. Ask the child to make a mental picture of the object and have the child describe either the color, shape, or size of the object.

2. Strengthen Reading Comprehension

Weak concept imagery also affects reading comprehension. Children typically cope by constantly rereading text, until they feel a sense of mastery. Unfortunately, they are only remembering words that will fail to carry any meaning for them. During class, the child with weak concept imagery will have difficulty creating the whole picture, only getting certain facts or details.

To develop this skill, parents can read to their children and apply visualization. When reading stories to my kids, I state, “I picture...” or “I see...”, and “How about you?” I can ask my kids, "What do you picture is going to happen next?" This will help build their ability to make inferences, a higher order thinking skill.

3. Increase Impulse Control

Kids who have a hard time with impulse control tend to not use their visualization skills to predict outcomes of their behaviors. They act without making a picture of their behaviors and the resulting outcome.

One program used by educational therapists that teaches the ability to image concepts is Visualize and Verbalize. The impetus for creating Visualize and Verbalize came about when Nanci Bell was working with a college student in 1981. Bell was astounded by the student’s advanced ability to recall language, which he described as, “I make movies when I read.” He went on to describe how he would see thins in his head to remember them better.

So, Bell developed Visualize and Verbalize to assist students who had yet to develop the ability to image. Visualize and Verbalize also simultaneously works on reading comprehension, critical thinking, communication skills, and written expression. The program sequentially trains students to image using an inquiry method through one-on-one instruction.

Once a student can make pictures visually, their brains can quickly translate ideas into pictures similar to when animated character gets a thought.Over time, children who work with an educational therapist retain concepts succinctly and correctly. Kids trained in this method better use all portions of their brain.

Children who struggle with weak concept imagery would benefit from educational therapy services in order to help them see that “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”.

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