There are many things parents can do to help their baby’s vision develop properly. The following are some examples of age-appropriate activities that can assist an infant’s visual development.
Birth to four months
- Use a nightlight or other dim lamp in your baby’s room.
- Change the crib’s position frequently and change your child’s position in it.
- Keep reach-and-touch toys within your baby’s focus, about eight to twelve inches.
- Talk to your baby as you walk around the room.
- Alternate right and left sides with each feeding.
Five to eight months
- Hang a mobile, crib gym or various objects across the crib for the baby to grab, pull and kick.
- Give the baby plenty of time to play and explore on the floor.
- Provide plastic or wooden blocks that can be held in the hands.
- Play patty cake and other games, moving the baby’s hands through the motions while saying the words aloud.
Nine to twelve months
- Play hide and seek games with toys or your face to help the baby develop visual memory.
- Name objects when talking to encourage the baby’s word association and vocabulary development skills.
- Encourage crawling and creeping.
One to two years
- Roll a ball back and forth to help the child track objects with the eyes visually.
- Give the child building blocks and balls of all shapes and sizes to play with to boost fine motor skills and small muscle development.
- Read or tell stories to stimulate the child’s ability to visualize and pave the way for learning and reading skills.
What Parents Can Do to Help with Preschool Vision Development
There are everyday things that parents can do at home to help their preschooler’s vision develop as it should. There are a lot of ways to use playtime activities to help improve different visual skills.
Toys, games and playtime activities help by stimulating the process of vision development. Sometimes, despite all your efforts, your child may still miss a step in vision development. This is why vision examinations at ages 3 and 5 are important to detect and treat these problems before a child begins school.
Here are several things that can be done at home to help your preschooler continue to successfully develop his or her visual skills:
- Practice throwing and catching a ball or bean bag
- Read aloud to your child and let him or her see what is being read
- Provide a chalkboard or finger paints
- Encourage play activities requiring hand-eye coordination such as block building and assembling puzzles
- Play simple memory games
- Provide opportunities to color, cut and paste
- Make time for outdoor play including ball games, bike/tricycle riding, swinging and rolling activities
- Encourage interaction with other children.
Vision Skills Needed For School Success
Vision is more than just the ability to see clearly, or having 20/20 eyesight. It is also the ability to understand and respond to what is seen. Basic visual skills include the ability to focus the eyes, use both eyes together as a team, and move them effectively. Other visual perceptual skills include:
recognition (the ability to tell the difference between letters like “b” and “d”),
comprehension (to “picture” in our mind what is happening in a story we are reading), and
retention (to be able to remember and recall details of what we read).
Every child needs to have the following vision skills for effective reading and learning:
Visual acuity — the ability to see clearly in the distance for viewing the chalkboard, at an intermediate distance for the computer, and up close for reading a book.
Eye Focusing — the ability to quickly and accurately maintain clear vision as the distance from objects change, such as when looking from the chalkboard to a paper on the desk and back. Eye focusing allows the child to easily maintain clear vision over time like when reading a book or writing a report.
Eye tracking — the ability to keep the eyes on target when looking from one object to another, moving the eyes along a printed page, or following a moving object like a thrown ball.
Eye teaming — the ability to coordinate and use both eyes together when moving the eyes along a printed page, and to be able to judge distances and see depth for class work and sports.
Eye-hand coordination — the ability to use visual information to monitor and direct the hands when drawing a picture or trying to hit a ball.
Visual perception — the ability to organize images on a printed page into letters, words and ideas and to understand and remember what is read.