Visual memory

We store in our memory what we see, hear and feel. Unfortunately, some children cannot store in memory what they see. They have poor visual memory- both short term and long term. The deficit in short term memory prevents them from copying quickly from the board. They also cannot retain what they read. The deficit in long term memory comes in the way of answering questions in a test. Poor long term visual memory leads to poor academic performance.

Let us learn more about short term memory.

What is short term memory?

We can hold a small amount of information for some time. This is short term memory. We do not remember the telephone number which we have dialled after some time though we had carefully dialled the number. We read a sentence with full concentration but we may forget the sentence after some time. So we hold information only for a short time.

Why short term memory is important?

Short term memory is important to do efficiently many things. Short term memory is required while reading because the reader must remember the last few sentences to understand the passage. When doing maths, the child has to remember the steps to solve the problem. Our brain cannot store information directly. From short term memory the information, needed to be stored, is transferred to the long term memory. If we do not have good short term memory, then the long term memory also gets affected. Students with learning difficulty have problems with short term memory.

How can you improve memory of your child?

You can train your child to improve her memory skills. Perhaps, the most effective method is to ask questions and force the brain to recall information.


  1. What was the colour of the sari your English teacher wore today?
  2. Who came to our house yesterday?
  3. What did we have for breakfast today?
  4. What day is today?
  5. What is our PIN code number?
  6. Who were absent in your class today?
  7. What is the colour of the building next to your school?

It is not difficult to prepare a list of questions to ask your child. Ask her questions every day. This will improve her observation power. She starts paying attention to details.

  1. Activities for improving visual memory

    1. Memory game :

      It is useful to have a board to teach children with learning difficulties. Write on the board three or four words which are familiar to the child. Use different coloured inks to improve the visual contrast. Let the child see the words for 10-15 seconds. Cover the words. Ask her to recall the words. Initially, have her write the words immediately after covering them. In the next stage, she has to recall and write the words after a gap of 30 seconds or so. The game should be so structured that the difficulty level is one step below the child’s level. The idea is that she should be able to successfully complete the activity as many times as possible. This would boost her self confidence. Remember, children with learning difficulties suffer from low self esteem or self confidence. Add variety to the game by having shapes and numbers. Don’t bother to correct the spelling mistakes if any, as the test is about the recall ability.

    2. Memory game with objects:

      Allow the child to see three or four objects for 10-15 seconds. Cover the objects and ask the child to recall the objects. Make her tell or write the name of the objects. In the next stage, the number of objects can be increased. But don’t have too many objects. The game can be played on a regular basis. Many good memory games are available. Visit a good toy shop and buy memory games suitable for your child.

      Relevant Activities in this website: Visual Memory game, Spell Game, card Game, and Recall Ability Exercise

    3. Ask questions to improve recall ability:

      The child can be asked to recall names of lessons and paragraph headings of the lessons. Ask her to recall and describe the pictures/diagrams in the lessons.

      1. A good visual recall activity is to recall the name of the houses in the street you live in, or places your child regularly visits- shops, park, places of worship etc. Make her tell as many things as possible about the place. Ask her to describe how and where things are arranged in a shop she frequents. She may be asked to describe the people working in these establishments.
      2. Ask your child to tell what happened at school, what was the colour of the dress that the teachers wore, which subject was taught first, which teacher was absent, what happened in the assembly etc. These questions improve visual sequence memory as well.
      3. Ask about events which happened six months or even one year ago. Can your child recall minute details of how the holidays were spent? Can she tell something about a story she studied in the previous year? Can she remember the capitals of states in India? Prepare a list of questions.

      Answering different types of questions is a good exercise for your child’s brain. These activities would definitely improve her ability to notice (observe) and remember what were seen. These would make her a better reader by observing and memorizing what was read. Another important benefit of this is you start spending more time with your child and you realize she has so many things to share with you!

    4. Multi sensory approach to improve visual memory:

      1. Auditory methods :

        Many children, having visual learning difficulties, learn through listening. Most of us are comfortable learning through eye reading. Children who have strong auditory sense are good at learning through listening. Text books can be read aloud. Give oral tests to check their understanding of a topic. Vivid descriptions of lessons help these children. Use smart phones to record lessons and they can listen to these recordings.

        Search the net: “audio books for children learning English as a second language. “ To cater to the visually challenged, some organizations in India have established online audio libraries. Become a member of an online library to get access to quality audio recordings. You can also access audio recordings free in multiple languages. Search the net for: Online audio library in India.

        Finally make them write tests. Our educational system relies heavily on written tests. Frequent revisions are required and children should be made to write mock tests. Make the child take a short test every day. Use auditory processing skills to support visual memory.

      2. Tactile and kinesthetic methods :

        Children with poor visual memory have difficulty in remembering numbers, letters and words. They may be poor at spelling. They can learn by touch. Ask the child to keep her eyes closed while the number/letter/ word is written on her hand. Initially, tell what is being written. Later, write the word/ letter / number and she has to identify what was written. These activities can improve tactile memory.

        Kinesthetic learners have difficulty in sitting still. They like to move while learning. Body movements help them to learn. Allow the children to find out their own methods to learn and memorize.

        Writing in air is a good activity for them. Write in air with large movement of the hand letters/words/ numbers/formula etc. Follow the movement of the hand with the eyes. Ask her to close her eyes and visualize what was written.