What Are Visual Perceptual Skills?

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If you are able to read this, then tell me how you were able to comprehend the first letter of this sentence. Have you ever wondered what skills and abilities are required that we are able to read what’s written before us? Reading requires the ability to see and infer. But if you can make out the sequence of the alphabets, this may be accounted for in Visual Perceptual skills.

While it may not be clear by now what Visual Perceptual skill is, this article with a number of insights and definitions may assist you in comprehending it better. Check on reading through the coming lines and unveil insights about this pivotal ability. 

Visual perception: What is it precisely?

The brain accumulates visual information at the phonological, visual, and episodic stages, which support the child’s reading, giving them a chance to improve their perception abilities from the young age of seven. Fluency and meaningful reading require visual perceptions, audio perceptions, attention span, and language skills. 

Visual Perception is defined as the process where the receptive senses of the brain carry out day-to-day tasks with the help of the visual senses.   

The senses that receive visual stimuli is a system that identifies both the object in the visual periphery and the space around it which in turn helps us in carrying out actions directly related to the things we see. Visual perception relies on the connection between the brain and what a child registers while in the developing phase.

As per this research, Visual perceptual skills give us the ability to differentiate between written letters, words, and punctuation marks. These skills also help in mapping roads and being able to put together a figure in the brain, affecting reading abilities. Therefore visual perception is to be considered a strong contributor to improving and impacting the way we move ahead in our reading skills.

Types of visual perceptual skills- Traits that assist visually

The ability to see and visualize is often needed in most of the routine tasks we do on a daily basis. Comprehending the same, here we explore the most commonly used visual perception skills required in our day-to-day lives.

  • Ensuring consistency– This is when a child realizes that the consistency of a letter or a number, no matter how it is written, contributes to helping a child in recognizing and learning numbers and letters easily. 
  • Visual distinction: helps in paying attention to detail and being able to differentiate between a capital S and a small s. In being able to differentiate two objects, the child is able to interpret information with a lot more clarity, and the students can deduce the meaning better.  With the help of the Pearson Correlation Coefficient formula, a study[1] was conducted with the primary level students of a school in Turkey where it was found how correlated visual motor-eye coordination and the reading skills were important for improving reading speed, reading comprehension, etc.
  • Figure-Ground Perception: This skill is the ability to simplify an object in front of our visual periphery where our visual perception recognizes the figure we are looking at and everything else that forms the background. It is important to take notice of how visual perception plays a huge role in the process of learning to read and the ability to comprehend reading comprehension in the developing phase.  As reading activities often start in the early grades of school, it may be pivotal where one can learn to adapt to reading which requires extra attention for children between the ages of five to seven.
  • Visual Closure is where a developing mind is able to grasp the figure or the written letter even if it’s only partly visible. It usually helps in learning and decoding words more fluently and more easily. 
  • Visual Memory and Sequential Memory: Visual Memory helps in memorizing the traits of an object or a figure. Sequential Memory on the other hand helps the child in remembering the sequence of objects in the correct order. Both these skills play an integral role in reading and spelling. Visual Memory helps in memorizing sentences and words, and Sequential Memory helps in remembering the order of letters in a word.
  • Visual Motor Integration is an amalgamation of one’s visual skills and motor skills which help in obtaining good handwriting skills.

Visual perceptions skills- What does the research say?

As the Visual Perceptual Skills largely helped in reading, this also helped many scholars and researchers shed light on the impact of improvement in visual perception and focus on one skill at a time affecting day-to-day tasks helping in building confidence and boosting self-esteem among children.

  • Starting from early childhood education, the reading skills of children are supported to improve their perception abilities. The reading process of children includes visual perception. Marianne Frostig[2] found in her studies that -visual perception difficulties were by far the primary contributor to learning disabilities. She found that children who had difficulty in hand-eye coordination and the children who could not recognize words often had disturbances in figure-ground perception.
  • Beery and Buktenica Developmental Visual Motor Coordination Test[3]  was made for visual-motor coordination and two other tests for visual perception and motor coordination respectively. 
  • Memiş and Ayvaz Sivri in their study used Informal Reading Inventory to evaluate first graders’ reading levels they applied the Developmental Test of Visual Perception (elucidated in the previous lines)  to analyze the visual perceptions of children.  The results of this research marked out that instruction-level students had better visual perception and thereby better reading speed and comprehension too.
  • M, M. Bezrukih[4]  studied visual perception abilities in children between the ages of five to seven years. He identified the age dependence of these developments and also outlined that visual perception abilities developed rapidly at this age.  

Strategies to improve visual perceptual skills- Activities

It has been observed over the years that activities have played a major role in the improvement of Visual Perceptual Skills. Bringing in more visual directions and the use of arrows and cue cards also help in the process. Another activity that has helped in focusing is to keep one skill at a time and not to bring it in all at once. Here are some insights worth considering:

  • Build Puzzles Steadily: In activities, the puzzles tend to confuse the mind in the beginning, thereby it is advised to build the puzzle one step at a time by keeping only one piece in front of a child at a time. Improving Visual Perceptual Skills is slow growth in children that are not able to grasp them at first go.  
  • Hand-Eye coordination activities: Another strategy would be to do more hand-eye coordination activities as they help in tracking movement in the line of visual direction, help in changing focus at a much faster rate, and are able to understand the depth and multidimensional perception. Simple examples for little ones include tying a shoelace or picking a ball to throw.
  • Keep visual activities a priority in the learning phase and indulge the child in playing with jigsaws, puzzles, pegboards, pattern blocks, seek and find books, etc. One can find books and toys like this on the internet.

A Study about visual perception problems:

Learning compromised individuals and their status of visual perception was marked out by Stefanie Pieters[5]. In his research about how the visual perception ability and motor skills are affected in math learning special children, multiple tests were conducted. The results of these implied that these special people may be substandard with respect to visual perception and motor integration to compare. Nonetheless, the level of effect often varies from one person to another. 

Visual perception and learning disability

These inferences may let us understand that visual information processing is ambiguous, and therefore there may be a need to bring up into one umbrella of learning to improvise, especially benefiting learning compromised individuals. The above activities may assist as an apt strategy. 

Concluding thoughts 

With varying demands of distinct tasks, there are varying sets of skills needed. As a part of this, Visual Perceptual Skills are often an eminent attribute as the ability to see, observe and visualize is often considered crucial.  Be it for students, adults, or those in varying professions; visual perceptual skills are often obligatory. Check out the above insights regarding these abilities to ensure a gripping idea of the same. 

References :

  1. Çayir, A. (2017). Analyzing the Reading Skills and Visual Perception Levels of First Grade Students. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 5(7), 1113-1116.
  2. Olson, A. V. (1966). School achievement, reading ability, and specific visual perception skills in the third grade. The Reading Teacher, 19(7), 490-492.
  3. Beery, K. E., Beery, N. A., & Buktenica, N. A. (1997). The Beery-Buktenica developmental test of visual-motor integration: VMI, with supplemental developmental tests of visual perception and motor coordination: administration, scoring, and teaching manual. Modern Curriculum Press.
  4. Bezrukikh, M. M., & Terebova, N. N. (2009). Characteristics of the development of visual perception in five-to seven-year-old children. Human physiology, 35(6), 684-689.
  5. Pieters, S., Desoete, A., Roeyers, H., Vanderswalmen, R., & Van Waelvelde, H. (2012). Behind mathematical learning disabilities: What about visual perception and motor skills?. Learning and Individual Differences, 22(4), 498-504.

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