Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Preparing for Parent Teacher Conferences: Part 4

Understanding the Visual-Spatial Learner

By Stephanie Newitt

What is a Visual-Spatial Learner?

"Creative, curious, out-of-the-box thinkers, visual-spatial learners (VSLs) learn by intuitive leaps. They remember what they see and forget what they hear. They may forget details but remember the BIG PICTURE forever."

Did your child score high in the "non-verbal" area of a gifted identification test? Are you wondering what "non-verbal" even means? "Non-verbal" is a phrase coined by testing companies which refers to the sub-test that contains picture puzzles with no verbal instructions. This test area identifies individuals who thinks with the big picture in mind, who prefer to move from "whole to part" as opposed to "part to whole." Individuals with this learning style can feel frustrated in an audio-sequential learning environment in which sequential steps are given verbally with little to no reference to what the end product is to look like. These are visual-spatial learners.

Qualifying as gifted in the "non-verbal" area is different from other areas. Other testing areas may be directly connected to an academic subject, but being identified as gifted in the "non-verbal" area reflects the student's learning style, not a specific academic subject, though the VS learning style can help them be successful in various subjects and cause frustration in others.

Preparing for Parent-Teacher Conferences

Prior to your PT conference, review your child's gifted assessment scores.  GPS uses the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) for gifted assessment.  If your child has been identified as gifted in the "non-verbal" area, and is struggling in an academic subject, you may wish to discuss with your child's teacher your child's need to learn from whole to part, such as to view a sample finished project when a project is assigned.  Ask what strategies and resources are available in the classroom/district to support VS learners.  If your child is excelling in an academic area, thank the teacher for supporting the VS learning style in his/her classroom.

For more information on Visual-Spatial Learners, click here to visit the VS Learner page of our website.

Source: Silverman, Linda K. “Vivid Imagination.” Visual-Spatial Resource,

This concludes our four-part series on "Preparing for Parent Teacher Conferences." If you found any of this information helpful, we would like to hear from you. Please email us your thoughts at Thank you.

Stephanie Newitt is a co-founder of Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted and a member of the GPS Gifted Education Parent Council Executive Committee. She has a B.S. in Family Science and is the mother of four gifted children, ages 14-24.

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