Young children can be taught strategies that they do not normally use to solve problems. One behavior modification study evaluated the effects of training children to use a visual imagining strategy on correct responses to categorization questions. The four children in the study were typically developing and ranged from ages 4 to 5.
The results of the study demonstrated that when children are taught visual imagination strategy and the process is demonstrated and they are told when to use the process then the children will have large amount of correct responses to categorization responses.
Imagination is a highly underutilized strategy when it comes to solving problems. In the study the children would not use the visual imagination strategy unless reminded to do so. Typically when the children were told to imagine what category an item belonged to then they would answer the questions quickly and accurately.
To do this study with your child you must first determine a few categories for your child to learn. Examples of this include, cars, trucks, animals, plants, etc. Next you must teach your child to label these things. You must also teach your child the categories. To aid in the development of imagination, show your child pictures of the items you want her or him to learn, and also separate the pictures according to the category that they belong to. Next you want to show your child you closing your eyes and imagining the correct answer to the question “what group does this belong too?” Just change the word “this” to one of the items from your groups. You could also verbalize your thinking process so your child understands. For example, you could say, “I remember the dog pictures being with the pictures of the other animals”. Next you have the child practice. Ask the child, “what category does the dog belong too?” If the child does not instantly respond correctly, within one to two seconds then remind the child to imagine the group that the dog belongs to. This method will give your child an advantage in preschool by having an alternative strategy to respond correctly to questions about numbers, animals, and letters.
April, K., Carr, J., & LeBlanc, L. (2011) Training preschool children to use visual imagining as a problem-solving strategy for complex categorization. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44, 255-278.