Visual Learning Techniques

Visual learning techniques are essential for special needs students but they can still be a fantastic resource for mainstream students as we all learn visually but some of us are predominantly visual learners.

Traditionally visual aids were low tech but these days we are fortunate to have high tech resources such as computers, iPads and interactive whiteboards. Everyday low tech options include “visuals” (pictures that represent activities) such as maths, lunch time, eating, play ground, toilet, daily schedule as well as social stories that can be used to teach skills, behaviours or address issues. Visual aids also act as an efficient communication device where spoken language may be a barrier, for example, it can give a student the ability to indicate a need such as to drink, use the toilet or to eat.

Student playing a colourful game on a mobile device

It also helps the teacher ask questions and obtain answers or give instructions or directions throughout a day. You should always ensure you maintain a mix of low tech and high tech visual aids so that if the high-tech aid fails you still have low‐tech options as a back up.

Visual Timetables

A visual timetable is a set of visuals (consisting of Boardmaker visuals and/or photos) which depict a specific time schedule, whether it be a morning session, a full day or a week. It is established by the teacher for students.

Daily Diaries

A daily diary is a pictorial representation of the day. It can include the day of the week, the weather, feelings and activities. It is a learning tool, developed by the teacher to promote choice making and correct identification of visuals. Students select appropriate visuals to communicate their daily activities with parents/caregivers.

  • To clarify schedules and activities to be undertaken during the day
  • Provide structured routine for students specifically with autism
  • Can be used to show that activities have finished
  • Can be used for positive behaviour management
  • Provides visual cues
  • Daily diaries provide students with a tool to open communication channels with parents
  • Visual timetables are set up by the teacher at the beginning of each day
  • They can be both class and individual timetables
  • Daily diaries are usually created at the end of day
  • Used as a point of reflection/clarification/recount
  • It is a communication tool to be used between parents and student
  • Students have ownership of their daily diary