Literacy in the Visual Learner

Written by David Morgan, a Clonlara School guest blogger affiliated with (***Clonlara School does not endorse or recommend any product/service in connection with this author***)

Statistics from governments around the world show that 20% of children reach age 11 and are not able to pass a reading test. Many children are still not grasping the phonics they were taught as 5 year olds.


Everyone has different learning styles. Our learning style is part of what makes us unique individuals, and we should learn to embrace our natural tendencies. Some of us are visually-oriented, others kinaesthetic, others auditory…We all naturally use the areas of the brain that work best for us. The more we use those areas, the more they develop, to the detriment of other areas.

However, there is one learning style which can complicate the processing of written text.

Children with exceptional visual-spatial capacities seem to be at risk when it comes to learning how to read, though in the first few years this risk may be well hidden. These children may or may not exhibit any problems with reading until the age of 7 or 8 because they will usually succeed in early literacy tasks. They do well at the start of their formal education because they are easily able to learn the alphabet and simple words through sight-memorization. This method appeals to their brain’s highly engaged visual capacity and learning style.

But they are using a technique that will eventually fail them.

As the text gets more complex they can no longer reliably use their sight memory or the context as a trigger clue and so they begin to guess very wildly. English is one of the world’s more complicated languages with a huge vocabulary, and every word cannot be memorized. These children read inaccurately, skip words, flip words and have low spelling ability.

Instead of recommending that these children just “do more reading” in order to fix the problem, teaching programs should play to the strengths of these visually engaged children.

These children need some kind of memory hook which is visually engaging that prompts them with the correct letter sound when they are stuck. Instead of resorting to guessing, the child is then empowered to decode words. In this way, children are weaned off their habit of jumping to a guess rather than scanning each word to match the letter patterns with the sound patterns.

David Morgan is Managing Director of Morgan Learning Solutions and creator of the Easyread System. Easyread employs imaginative synthetic phonics to teach struggling learners how to read and spell. The program specializes in helping kids with dyslexia, highly visual learning styles or auditory processing disorder. Visit us on Facebook at


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