Vocabulary for Visual Learners – Help! For Parents

Deena Seifert, MS, CCC-SLP

Many of the students that Beth and I work with in our speech-language private practices have difficulty learning and memorizing their vocabulary words. . I’m going to share a picture method that helps visual learners with new vocabulary terms.

Night after night parents are struggling with how best to help their child learn the required vocabulary words. It leads to frustration for not only students, but parents, too. Here is a method you might try to make life a little easier with vocabulary:

Use a software program

There are many great software programs out there to help students store and learn vocabulary terms. One I like to use is Quizlet.com. It allows the student to post vocabulary from multiple subjects, learn the terms, take tests and play games with them. Words can be entered on the internet site and practiced on computer, on phones, iPods or on vocabulary cards you print out. The words stay on the website until you remove them which is great for students who lose cards they might need for midterms or finals. Many teachers use this program, too, and send students their lists. A student can practice their terms on their iPod or phone easily without having to carry around cards.

Pictures on the Cards

After handwriting or printing out vocabulary cards from a software program, now the real work begins. Have your child make two piles – one for words then know and one for words they don’t know. With the pile of terms they are not familiar with, go through each card and make a picture association that helps them recall the definition. Ask your child – What does it make you think of?

Here’s an example:

Front of card Back of card

Now practice the vocabulary cards and associate the pictures with the terms to solidify the meaning.

Why this works…

Students will associate the term they had trouble memorizing or learning with the picture. When they are being tested, looking at the word on the test will cause them to see the picture in their mind and remember what the word means.


You might want to highlight the root word on the front of the card or break the vocabulary word into syllables. Some students use the “sounds like” method when trying to recall a definition for a word.

This is a great method for students who tend to be more visual learners as opposed to auditory learners. In other words they learn better by seeing rather than hearing. Use whatever works for your child. Tap into experiences from your life and theirs. Make sure your child does this with you, because if you do all the work you will remember the term, but they won’t. Vocabulary learning can be a partnership between you and your child until they are able to do it independently. Who knows, you may enjoy happier evenings working on vocabulary.