Have you ever thought about the muscles in your eyes and how we develop them? We don’t arrive in the world with perfect control of our eyes – it is a motor skill that we fine-tune as we grow and train them. But nowadays this does not happen for all children.
Here’s an interesting fact – babies should be able to move their heads separate from their eyes by the age of 6 months. This ability was born out of necessity, it is a survival mechanism. Our human ancestors needed to be able to identify any threat coming their way. To seek out those you care for you needed to use your eyes and your voice as your movement skills were still to develop. The ability to scan, track, fix your gaze and be aware of your whole visual field was your number one survival skill.
This primitive need is still essential in modern day society. Developing a child’s eye coordination is vital in supporting their early physical development. This is when the child’s eyes are able to judge distance and their surroundings, whilst their brain gives the instruction for their hand to make a particular movement.
It forms the basis for essential skills for independence, especially reading, writing, copying, ball skills, balance and the ability to make our coordinated movement more fluid and less tiring. So many of the children we see through our practice have not consolidated this skill and consequently have difficulties.
We’ve often wondered why this is happening. Perhaps it’s our modern lifestyles? Or are our young children only able to see what’s directly in front of them out of their padded pushchair? Would it be because our children spend less and less time outdoors in free play? Could it be our increased use of devices and screens for young children? In truth, it is probably a combination of all of these.
Eye coordination activities for children
Simple ways to work on eye tracking with any age of child
Butterfly on the nose!
I spy with my little eye – this encourages children to look around and in more detail at their surroundings.
Car games like spot the number plate, count the number of legs on the pub signs – along with the bonus of easing the boredom of a car journey, it gives children something to concentrate on while encouraging them to scan horizons plus the scenery nearby as it moves past them.
Scanning and looking games like scavenger hunts or hide and seek.
Play with torches – in a darkened room you and your child can each have a torch. One of you shines your light and the other has to ‘catch’ you by shining their light over yours.
Catch feathers or tissue paper twists – get a small net or container and see how many feathers you can catch as they fall from on high.
Pop bubbles – as a bonus, practice isolating index fingers to pop bubbles as they are blown all around them. It’s a great game to help with hand eye coordination too.
Parachute man – throw the man up into the air then use only your eyes to watch him fall.
Playing with balloons – this is an excellent way to slow down the movement to make practicing skills like catching, patting, throwing and watching a little easier.
Eye dancing – always popular! Make up a routine of eye movement. For example, while keeping your head still go left, right, left, up, down, up, circle one way and circle the other way.