VIsual Perception: Visual-Sequential Memory

Visual perception child with glasses

We are continuing our Visual Perception blog series that focuses on the 7 specific skills comprising visual perception. In the last post, we learned more about Form Constancy and Visual Closure and how to help your clients, students, or children improve it. Now, we take a look at Visual-Sequential Memory.

Knowing which specific skill area(s) your child struggles with will aid in choosing appropriate and effective treatment activities. In addition to occupational therapists, there are also specialized optometrists called developmental optometrists (also called behavioral optometrists) who evaluate and treat all of the skills above. *If you have concerns about your child’s vision, we always suggest that you first consult with your child’s optometrist or ophthalmologist.*

Visual-sequential memory is similar to the previously discussed skill of “visual memory”. The difference is that visual-sequential memory is specific to remembering multiple pieces of information in a distinct order. This could be two or more shapes, letters, numbers, pictures, etc. It is vitally important as children learn to read and write.

Children who are learning the alphabet are visually memorizing each letter and associating it with the name of that letter. “Sight” words that young children learn are also retained via visual memory. The children memorize the pattern of lines and shapes that make up the letters to a word and learn to associate that pattern of lines and shapes with the word itself.

The same goes for children who are learning to write letters and words. They must have an accurate “picture” of the order of letters that make up words in their minds before they can write them independently. If their visual memory of group of letters making up a word is not accurate, it will be spelled incorrectly when they write it. When copying from the board in the classroom, children with visual memory deficits will often require extra time because they struggle to retain the information in their minds long enough to transfer it to their page.

In math, children will need to be able to copy numbers in math equations in the correct order as well as keep that order in their mind while solving. Order of operations, as this skill is known, is a higher-level skill but is still one that requires visual-sequential memory.

Visual-sequential memory is an important visual skill. If you think your child might be struggling with visual-sequential memory–good news! It can be practiced and improved. Check out the list below for lots of fun ways to help your child improve visual sequential memory skills.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Our Visual-Sequential Memory activity packet is a convenient print-and-go resource for parents, teachers, and therapists available in our Teachers Pay Teachers shop and Etsy shop!
  • Word searches are helpful because the child must hold the correct spelling of a word in their minds as they look for letters in the same sequence within the jumble of letters
  • Lay out a series of picture cards, beginning with two cards and working your way up to more. Then, pick these cards back up and move them out of view. Have the child attempt to remember the order of the cards. For younger children, you might show a series of three cards then mix these three cards up and give them to the child. The child could then lay the cards down in the order they think is correct. Older children may be able to recite the pictures in order without needing to look at the cards again. Remember to provide time (at least 10-15 seconds)  between showing the picture cards and having the child recall the order. This same task can also be done with numbers or letters instead of pictures.
  • Build a block or Lego tower from various colored bricks one on top of the other. Allow your child time to look at your tower. Then, move your tower out of view and have the child try to re-create your tower using the same sequence of colored bricks. Start with three bricks for young children and work up from there. If the task is too frustrating, try providing your child with a pile of the exact number and color of individual bricks they will need to accurately recreate your tower (not yet put together, of course).
  • Similar to the activity above, this can also be done with colored beads on a string or pipe cleaner for a child who is uninterested in blocks.

What are your favorite activities to address visual sequential memory? Let us know in the comments. Stay tuned for our next visual skill post– Visual Figure-Ground!

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