Visual Discrimination

“I want the bigger slice of chocolate cake!”

Visual discrimination means being able to tell the difference between objects and forms based on their features (such as shape, size and colours).

…It’s also known as the skill that could start World War III because junior thinks someone else has more than they do. It’s uncanny how you can just see the pouting lip and hear the high-pitched echoes of “Not fair!”, isn’t it?

How do I know if my child is having difficulty with their visual discrimination skills?

Kids who are experiencing difficulties with visual discrimination often find the following tasks challenging:

  • Identifying letters, words and objects that look similar
  • Writing numbers and letters so they ‘sit’ on the line
  • Identifying different textures and shades of colour in pictures
  • Identifying shapes and symbols
  • Using ‘comparative’ language that relates one thing to another (e.g. taller than, lighter than, wider than)
  • Matching items while dressing (e.g. socks)

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Ways you can help your child with their visual discrimination skills

If you think your youngster would benefit from strengthening their visual discrimination skills, try the following activities:

  • ‘Searching games’ such as 'I Spy'
  • Card games such as 'Snap' and 'Pairs'
  • Sorting objects into groups that are the same colour, shape, size and/or texture (e.g. round balls, yellow toys or different types of cutlery)
  • Doing worksheets such as 'Spot the Difference', 'Colour by Number' and 'Dot to Dot'
  • Playing with toys that require shapes being matched to the correct opening
  • Reading mix and match books (e.g. three-part flip books with interchangeable animal heads, bodies and tails)
  • Playing with picture or word dominoes that involve pairing pictures or words that are the same

Some additional tips for improving your child’s visual discrimination skills

Here’s a helpful hint for you: when you’re working on visual discrimination, it’s a good idea to begin with objects that are the same except for one differing feature (e.g. one being bigger than the other).

Once junior has got the hang of this, you can progress to things that have two different features such as colour and shape, and so on.

The general rule of thumb when developing any of the foundation skills is to always start simple and build up from there.

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Combined Videos

Combining several foundation skills, our PlayBiz Play-a-Long videos run for 10 minutes or so. We’ve carefully ordered the activities so they enable your youngster to have an optimal learning experience and develop the skills they’ll need for school by joining in the ‘teachable moments’. Picture a fun and educational TV program like PlaySchool crossed with an occupational therapy session that’s chock full of strategies. Ready, steady, learn! Please note: The Play-a-Long videos don’t need to be viewed in any particular order.