By, Danielle Peets, OTR/L ~ Child and Family Development
Children use their sense of vision to provide them with extensive information about the world around them. A child’s visual perception is their ability to interpret and make sense of what they see. Their visual motor skills allow them to use their eyes and hands in a coordinated manner to perform tasks.
Occupational Therapists often screen for visual problems in order to determine how they may impact functional tasks. We encourage you to incorporate visual activities at home in order to help develop and maintain your child’s visual skills.
Wondering how you can encourage vision development in your child?
Here are a few ideas/activities:
1. While reading stories, encourage your child to look at specific details in the pictures (i.e. facial features on people, bird in the sky, wheels on a car). Ask them to find objects and details on the pages and point to the objects that are being named. Try to have your child reach across midline to locate and point to objects. For more of a challenge, encourage your child to hold their head still and use only their eyes to locate objects.
2. Find hidden pictures in “Where is Waldo” or “I Spy” books. This is such a fun way to encourage vision development by again, having your child find details and objects on each side of the book and having them point to named objects. If you don’t have the books, no worries! You can also play this game within any environment by placing objects at a variety of distances and heights, then having your child attempt to locate them around the room by pointing.
3. Play with objects that encourage your child to look and identify objects using one eye.
b. Paper towel tubes
c. Magnify glass
4. Promote visual development through writing activities that require your child to carefully look at what they are drawing. Encourage them to complete mazes, dot-to-dot pictures, and practice coloring inside shapes. While drawing pictures with your child, draw a familiar object with a missing part (i.e. person without an arm, face without a nose, car without a wheel). Then, have your child carefully look at the picture and identify what part is missing.
5. Encourage activities that require hand-eye coordination.
a. Lacing and threading activities (i.e. lacing cards, stringing beads, pop beads)
b. Snipping/cutting with scissors
c. Building with blocks/Legos
d. Catching and throwing a ball
6. Encourage visual tracking at farther distances –rolling the ball and locating, bowling, and remote controlled cars. You can also have your child push cars on a specific track (i.e. rug with road designs) while needing to remain within the road lines. Hitting a balloon that is suspended on a string is another great activity that requires visual tracking.
7. Have your child participate in obstacle courses -Climbing over the couch, through a tunnel, under a table, stepping over objects, walking on different surfaces and grades. There is a lot of visual planning and skills required to successfully maneuver through an obstacle course.
8. Incorporate “hiding” games. When your child is playing with more than one toy, have them close their eyes and then hide one toy. When the child opens their eyes, they need to try and visualize what toy you hid. This is building your child’s visual memory. For older children, try playing a memory card game. This game helps your child remember what they saw previously and where it was located.
Danielle Peets is a North Carolina Licensed Occupational Therapist at Child & Family Development. Occupational Therapy focuses on helping kids with everyday activities such as staying organized and focused in the classroom or playground, managing sensory input and their own behaviors, as well as stretching and strengthening their muscles. Our office is open. Schedule a free consultation with an expert in pediatric development today. We are open and offering in-office services as well as virtual office visits for some services.
Child & Family Development
11940 Carolina Place Parkway, Suite 200
Charlotte, NC 28134