Children who struggle with visual motor integration have difficulty coordinating body movement in response to what they are seeing. Identifying and improving visual motor skills lays the foundation for proper brain function and development as a child grows.
Visual motor, or eye-hand coordination, problems often are not discovered till a child is in elementary school. Challenges in learning to write, draw or use classroom tools may be the first warning signs. When visual motor issues are identified, visual acuity and perception may be intact – and there may be no problem with motor control either. The deficit lies in the mechanism that enables the visual and motor systems to work in tandem.
Activities to Encourage Eye-Hand Coordination
Visual motor skills can be enhanced through consistent practice in various activities. As is often the case with children, it helps to make therapy fun. Try:
Cutting Shapes with Scissors
Whether you are building a seasonal landscape or a winter snowman, having children safely cut out the shapes used for the activities is an excellent way to help improve eye-hand coordination.
Students jump rope or do jumping jacks while you hold up picture or word cards – a new one for each jump. Make a game of it by challenging them to see how quickly they can identify what’s on the card while up in the air. Once they master this basic activity, try cards with simple addition and subtraction problems.
Strengthening children’s hands through activities like cutting or stringing beads can become repetitive, so consider origami as an enjoyable alternative. Intricately folding paper helps improve hand and wrist strength, with the added benefit of a cute animal or other figure to be proud of afterwards.
Turn down the lights and shine a flashlight at a wall in a random pattern. Move up and down, side to side, and in loops. Have students follow your movements with their own flashlight. This encourages eye tracking skills, in addition to visual motor practice.
New Ways to Play Catch
Kids who struggle with hand-eye coordination may be reluctant to play catch with a heavy, small baseball. Offer alternatives such as a variety of balls in differing sizes and weights; for instance, use beach balls or kick balls, or have them toss a bean bag back and forth. Not only will children’s motor skills improve, but so will their ability to discern how much pressure is needed to toss and catch different objects.
As you get settled into a new school year, call on the expert pediatric therapy company, Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services, for resources, tips and contacts to build your practice and your career. Read our related posts or give us a call today to learn more.