Homeschooling a Visual Learner
Visual learners are those that learn by seeing. Charts, diagrams, and graphs are especially helpful to visual learners. They may also enjoy learning through videos or lectures that utilize visual aids. Using colorful highlighters to mark up text or creating mind maps may help them learn better.
Your child might be a visual learner if s/he:
- is artistic and likes colorful imagery;
- Spends time really looking at pictures, whether in books or on walls;
- Remembers many details about what they’ve seen;
- Is Good with directions because they remember where they’ve been and what they saw on the way to get there;
- Likes to doodle; or
- Daydreams often.
There are some great options of video-based curricula for visual learners across a variety of homeschooling methods including classical, traditional, and eclectic approaches to learning.
If you prefer parent-led instruction, there are also a variety of homeschool curriculum options that are great for your preschool, elementary, or middle school visual learner.
In this post, we’ll cover the best curricula and instructional models for your visual learner as well as ways to support your visual learner with any curriculum, parent-led, and video-based instruction.
The Best Curricula for Visual Learners by Subject
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Reading & Writing Curriculum for Visual Learners
Abeka is a great Christian curriculum for phonics instruction. In many ways, they’re the gold standard for teaching young children to read. Abeka Academy offers video instruction that can benefit your little visual learners. You can purchase the entire academic program (all subjects), videos by subject, or pay for a specific number of hours of video instruction. With the latter option, you can incorporate a mixture of parent-led instruction and that of the videos. Be warned that this is an expensive curriculum model, but you get what you pay for! Abeka’s methods have produced many successful readers.
Explode the Code is another popular phonics curriculum that will work well with visual learners. A nice feature of this curriculum is the ½ levels available for extra reinforcement of skills between levels. Parents can teach this curriculum, or there is video-based instruction available.
Another good phonics option for visual learners are the LeapFrog videos. Currently, these are available for streaming on a few different apps, so there’s a good possibility you already have access to them. Letter Factory is a great starting place!
Spelling-You-See from Demme Learning is a great option for your visual learner. This program utilizes color-coding to break words into chunks. Then, rather than memorizing a list of words (which research has actually shown isn’t super effective), students learn how to spell specific word patterns in context.
Well-Ordered Language (Classical Academic Press) is a good grammar option for your visual learner. This curriculum does a fantastic job of sequentially teaching grammar through sentence analysis and eventually diagramming. Your child gets to see how a sentence is constructed, which will help him/her write grammatically-correct sentences themselves.
BJU Press’s English series combines writing and grammar. It incorporates colorful (yet not overwhelmingly so) pages and a variety of charts, diagrams, and text boxes in addition to the text. A nice feature is that they also provide space for students to draw pictures to help them remember what they’ve learned.
The Writing & Rhetoric series by Classical Academic Press teaches kids how to annotate a text as a regular part of their instruction. It also does a nice job of tying in history and interesting literature pieces to help students learn about various mechanisms of writing.
BJU Press’s Reading series does a nice job appealing to visual learners with illustrations, diagrams, and other text features that help students understand the concepts being taught. Another selling point for BJU Press’s curriculum is the emphasis the newest editions have placed on incorporating diversity into their texts.
Abeka’s Reading Comprehension Skill Sheets incorporate the use of pictures to help visual learners master lesson concepts. They also provide opportunities for students to draw pictures to help them remember what they’ve learned.
For older visual learners, Classical Academic Press’s Walking to Wisdom series may be a good fit. These books emphasize text annotation and incorporate journaling and essays to help students deal with complex texts by C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Dorothy Sayers.
Mathematics Curriculum for Visual Learners
Singapore Math (I prefer Dimensions, Primary Mathematics U.S. Edition, Primary Mathematics Common Core Edition, etc. over Math in Focus) relies heavily on number bonds and bar modeling, which will appeal to your visual learner. This is especially true as your child gets into word problems. The visual models they’ll learn to create help them better understand what a problem is asking them to do, and complex processes become much more manageable. Note that Singapore Math is a challenging program, and the levels typically run about a year ahead of most other curricula. Be sure to utilize their placement tests…and then actually follow the recommendations! I know I fall into the trap of thinking I can help bridge the gap for my child. It really is much better to just “go back” a level with this program, though.
Math-U-See is another great option for your visual learners. There are videos for each level that include about 10 minutes of instruction. Mr. Demme is a great teacher, and older students (upper elementary through high school) get a kick out of his instruction. Parents of younger children should probably watch the videos themselves to learn how to instruct their children (or perhaps determine if the videos will work directly for their child). With a heavy emphasis on manipulatives, Math-U-See allows students to really see how math works. In the youngest levels, children combine the use of manipulatives with visual representations of the math, perhaps strengthening the visual approach even more.
Argo Prep has some great review books for visual learners. There are two series for math- Math! Grade __ and ___ Grade Common Core Math (multiple choice and extended response). The Math! series contains short instructional pages at the beginning of each chapter which is great for review or a quick reteach. Both series have video explanations for every question, so your visual learners can watch a teacher demonstrate how to solve any problem they get wrong.
Science Curriculum for Visual Learners
For science, YouTube has a lot of great videos if you follow a more eclectic approach or are able to curate your own program.
If you don’t have the time or interest in doing that, or you want something more structured, CrossWired Science is a great option for your visual learners. This program can be used across many different ages, and it utilizes great videos for instruction. Students also draw pictures, create charts and graphs, and write throughout the program. Another great feature- perhaps the best one!- is how unapologetically Christian this program is. There are devotionals included for each day. Many of the videos also take an explicitly Christian perspective. A goal of the program is to generate awe and wonder for our Great Creator, so many fascinating facts are incorporated throughout the program. They run great promotions, too, so you can get the entire program at a very affordable price.
Apoogia’s elementary science textbooks and journals are also appealing to visual learners and can be used through middle school. My son couldn’t put the textbooks down! If students read each textbook in the Exploring Creation series, they will get a very comprehensive overview of science including life science, earth science, physical science, astronomy, botany, chemistry, and physics. Disclaimer: my son LOVES the elementary series. He does NOT love the 7th grade text.
History/Geography Curriculum for the Visual Learning Style
To Every Nation is a homeschool curriculum you may not have heard of before, but it is one you should consider. It combines history and geography with missions, studying the lives of influential missionaries from around the world. This book ties in with the popular Christian Heroes: Then and Now series. Not Consumed (the publisher) has all 12 books from the series available at a discount- the best price I’ve seen for them, too. To Every Nation incorporates copywork (ESV and KJV), drawing, and extension activities that will appeal to your visual learner.
Mystery of History’s supplemental materials include resources and activities that will appeal to visual learners. If you snag an older copy of the curriculum used, these activities may be included in the textbook. They are separate from the newest edition (a beautiful and decidedly more durable hardback) and available as a download, on a CD, or as a hard copy if you find them new or recently purchased.
Story of the World is another popular homeschool curriculum with an activity book that can appeal to visual learners. This curriculum has been used for years by homeschool families following a variety of homeschool methods (classical, traditional, eclectic) and is definitely worth consideration.
If you’re looking to save home, YouTube is a good resource for your history instruction for visual learners. Also, if you have Amazon Prime, The Most Dangerous Way to School has been a favorite of ours.
All Subjects Curriculum for Visual Learners
If you’re looking for something more comprehensive or cohesive, some options for video-based instruction across all subjects are:
BJU Press– BJU Press also follows a fairly traditional Christian approach, though the textbooks have a more modern appearance that Abeka does. BJU Press uses a modern translation of Scripture, and the textbooks are designed in a way that will really appeal to your visual learner. The video instruction for some of the grade levels feels dated, but it’s a safe assumption that they are in the process of redoing their video instruction as they are rolling out new versions of their textbooks.
Abeka– Abeka is pricey but follows a traditional Christian approach to educating your child. This is a solid program that has been proven to be effective. Note that Abeka uses the KJV Bible, so if you use a modern translation, you’ll have to adjust accordingly. Abeka also places a heavy emphasis on structure, from ensuring your child is sitting with correct posture to encouraging respect and focused attention during the videos. For some families, this is exactly what they’d want. For others, it may be too rigid.
Ways to Support Visual Learners with Any Curriculum
Before we get into some specific instructional models and curricula, let’s spend just a few moments on a homeschool tool that will likely be a game-changer for your visual learner. Anchor charts! Anchor charts are charts that “anchor” your child’s learning. Think simplified notes pages hanging on your wall. If you don’t want them taking up precious wall real estate, you can always put them in a binder or create interactive notebooks with them. I personally prefer to keep them on the wall (just one tablet that I flip through as needed) so they can provide visual cues even when we’re not actively studying that topic.
Anchor charts capture the important learning for a topic. It’s best to create them with your child, meaning as part of your direct instruction if parent-led, or by pausing video instruction in order to create them as you go. Alternately, you could create them from your child’s notes or after instruction for older students. These colorful (though you control how much color and busy-ness each chart has!) charts are like posters that house those nuggets of information you don’t want your child to forget.
Interactive Notebooks are another thing parents can add to any curriculum to help their visual learners. These educational tools are simple to make and can be adapted to suit any child. Using a regular notebook (I prefer a hardback composition book), students capture important learning. On the right side page, students record notes and important facts from the lesson. On the left page, students respond to that content creatively. They can free write or` draw pictures, diagrams, charts, mind maps…the sky’s the limit!
Parent-Led Direct Instruction for the Visual Learning Style
If you prefer to provide the instruction to your child, there are some great ways to appeal to his/her preference of visual learning. Many parents utilize a whiteboard (a large one like this for the parent, and perhaps some smaller ones for the child(ren) like this for direct instruction.
At first, that’s what I did, but I soon realized that my Apple devices are GREAT for my visual learner. Now we do a lot of our instruction from the couch. You can learn more about how I’ve hacked my Apple devices for homeschooling here, but in a nutshell, I use my iPad, Apple Pencil, and AppleTV to do any direct instruction with my child. I take a picture of my son’s textbook and project it onto the tv. I refer to my teacher’s manual as needed and use my Apple Pencil to annotate the text.
Choosing the Best Homeschool Curriculum for Visual Learners
There are a lot of great options for parents wishing to provide a Christian homeschool education to their visual learners! We hope this overview has been helpful for you.
Now that you have an idea of some of the great options available, use our Curriculum Guide to narrow down your search!