Visual Perception: See What?

What are visual perceptual skills and why are they important? I’m so glad you asked! Visual-perceptual skills are not about how well you we see things (acuity) but rather how we (our brains) interpret what we see. For our kiddo’s, visual perceptual skills are so important, both in school and in their daily lives. These skills help them to recognize letters and numbers for reading, writing, and typing. These skills help them to recognize a face, match shapes, find a specific toy in a toy chest, read a road sign or map, and so many more things that those of us with strong visual perceptual skills take for granted.

There are many areas, or subcategories, of visual perception: figure ground, visual memory, visual sequential memory, form constancy, spatial relations, visual closure, visual motor integration, and visual discrimination.

Here is a brief review of each area:


Visual Figure Ground

This skill allows us to find an item in a busy visual field, such as a key word on a busy text book page, or the extra key in the junk drawer, or the broken blue crayon in the art box. This can also include faces, figures, numbers, any object really.

Visual Memory

This skill allows us to record, store, and retrieve information, remember something that was seen once it is no longer in sight. It allows us to learn and later recall what is learned, such as visualizing the notes that you studied before the test, or the empty pantry shelf when shopping.

Visual Sequential Memory

Similar to visual memory in that it allows us to store and retrieve information when necessary or useful, however, sequential memory involves distinguishing order of visual stimuli, such as words on a page, or writing without reversing letters, or a combination to a lock.

Visual Form Constancy

This skill allows us to distinguish one object from another similar object, even if it is rotated or sized differently, such as telling the difference between the letter “b” and “d” or “6” and “9”.

Visual Spatial Relations

This skill allows us to understand where things are in the environment in relation to ourselves and other objects, such as the spacing between words, the side of the jungle gym platform, or even understanding personal space.

Visual Closure

This skill allows us to identify an item when only part of it is showing, such as recognizing a pencil when only the bottom is sticking out from under the papers on the desk, or a stop sign when part of it is covered by a tree limb.

Visual Motor Coordination/Integration

This skill connects and coordinates what our eyes see with what our body/muscles do, such as copying math problems from the board to our own paper, getting your morning cereal into your mouth, driving a car, hitting the game winning homerun!

Visual Discrimination

Each of the above skills require some degree of visual discrimination. Visual Discrimination is the ability to identify detail, finding the slight differences in items, such as distinguishing between “R” and a “K”.

Here are some great activities to do with kiddos to help develop their visual perceptual skills:

  • Hidden pictures
  • Puzzles
  • Connect the dots
  • Copying shapes
  • Memory games
  • Construction toys (Legos, Erector Sets, building blocks))
  • Navigate through an obstacle course
  • Word search
  • Bingo
  • I-Spy bottles (click here to learn how to make your own I-Spy bottles as a fun activity to do with your kiddos)
  • Sorting type of games