Author: Dr. Lynn F. Hellerstein
Hellerstein and Brenner Vision Center
Visualization is an essential key to a child’s academic success.
- Does your child struggle in school?
- Is your child less than enthusiastic about learning?
- Have you noticed how stressed your child becomes when it is time for test-taking?
- Does your child lack self-esteem and confidence?
- Is your child bullied?
- Do you feel that your child may not be reaching her highest potential?
- Would you like to empower your child to develop his or her own easy and fun strategies for learning?
What is visualization?
Welcome to the world of visualization.
This article starts the conversation on what visualization is, how to use it, and what it can do for you if you learn to use it well.
Visualization is easy to learn—we all have the rudiments of it and even the youngest of children are already visualizing to some degree. Children are naturally curious, they want to learn and explore. As toddlers, they are enthusiastic and love to learn. Just watch a two-year old discover everything in the cupboard— he will excitedly pull things apart, while laughing and questioning.
The word visualization conjures up many images and meanings for people. Visualization is defined in numerous ways, depending on the person, the type of discussion and situation.
Visualization may be defined as:
- Utilizing visual mental imagery or picturing in your “mind’s eye”.
- Utilizing the five senses to manipulate a mental image: Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.
Here is my definition of visualization:
The ability to imagine, sense, become aware of, move, manipulate and expand the pictures in your “mind’s eye” and the feelings or senses in your body, thereby developing new perspectives and creativity. Visualization is the “knowing,” or “I got it,” or “gut feeling,” through the orchestration of your senses.
How do good readers use visualization?
Good readers often report that they “see movies in their head” when they read — these readers are actually visualizing the story as it unfolds. Sometimes they can even see themselves in the story.
Children who don’t like to read, rarely experience seeing movies in their head, and instead experience difficulty imagining the story or seeing themselves in it.
When a child says that reading is “boring,” trust him, it is. Letters and print are boring to him. Nothing has sparked his imagination… yet.
How does poor visualization affect a child?
When a child who struggles in reading undertakes the reading experience, he spends most of his time figuring out what the words are. He doesn’t even get a chance to fall into the story, much less visualize what’s going on or what could happen.
If reading becomes a challenge and non-enjoyable, your child will most likely resist reading, and avoid any homework requiring it.
How can parents help?
As a parent, it is important to notice your child’s frustration— though it is often masked by avoidance behaviors. Once you understand that your child is struggling to read and not just simply avoiding the task, you can use visualization to help them achieve greater success in their:
- Academic performance: Reading, creative writing, spelling, math, homework, and test-preparation
- Sports performance
- Personal development: Stress management, handling fears, dealing with bullies, and building self-confidence
Who can visualize for success?
Picture yourself on your dream vacation:
Are you lying on a white sandy beach, cruising through the Greek Isles, watching the sun set over a calm lake or sitting in Fenway Park watching the Red Sox beat the Yankees?
In order to imagine your dream vacation, you need to tap into your visualization skills.
Vision therapy for visualization
Visualization skills develop just as coordination and cognitive skills develop.
Visualization skills can also be taught as part of a comprehensive vision therapy program.