Hand-eye Coordination: How Hand-eye Coordination Helps Early Readers
This article contains information regarding hand-eye coordination and it’s importance for reading and writing. Affiliate links are included for your convenience.Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
Hand-eye coordination is one of the most important parts of the learning process. It helps your child track the movements of their hands with their eyes, which is essential for reading and decoding. Because your child also uses their visual system with hand-eye coordination, it can greatly impact their writing skills and handwriting as they use their eyes to guide, direct and control their hand movements across the page as they write letters and words. Your child’s eyes send a message to the brain about a certain object or stimuli (pencil, ball, apple), which triggers signals to your child’s hands for a reaction to that object or stimuli (writing, throwing, eating).
Hand-eye coordination also involves and utilizes so many other important body systems such as your child’s proprioception, vestibular, visual processing and sensory-motor. If your child struggles with hand-eye coordination, you may find they have a hard time with balance and coordination, focusing their eyes on their hand movements, poor handwriting, playing sports, and trouble griping their pencil.
If your child has difficulty following a moving object in front of their eyes, and also has difficulty moving their eyes from one spot to another, it could be a sign that they have a hard time with hand-eye coordination and could eventually struggle with reading too. If your child’s eyes tend to lag behind and instantly jerk to catch up instead of moving smoothly when reading or doing other coordination activities, they may need to further develop these skills.
In Sensory Integration and the Child, A. Jean Ayres, PhD, says, “Integration of vestibular and proprioceptive inputs gives the child control over his eye movements. Without the guidance of these sensations, it is difficult for the child to focus on an object or follow it as it moves. Later on it may be difficult to move the eyes along a line of print. Reading may be so exhausting that it simply isn’t worth the effort.”
A recent study released by scientists at Indiana University discovered a strong correlation between hand-eye coordination, learning abilities and social communication skills. It discusses how children interact and communicate with their parents using their gaze, visual system and hand-eye coordination.
Signs of Poor Hand-eye Coordination
If your child struggles with hand-eye coordination and their visual system you may notice some of the following signs:
- Complains of seeing double
- Turns or tilts his or her head when reading across the page
- Turns or tilts head when watching television or the teacher while he or she is teaching
- Has trouble following a moving object
- Omits words or numbers and loses their place when reading
- Difficulty with fine motor tasks
- Confuses right and left and has a poor sense of direction
Exercises and Tools to improve Hand-eye Coordination
Now that we have established that your child’s visual system is tied to hand-eye coordination, it’s important to create opportunities to improve this area. If your child has difficulty with hand-eye coordination or if they are in the process of developing these skills, we want it to become automatic for them so when the time comes for reading and writing, they don’t have to physically think about it.
In Developing Ocular Motor and Visual Perception Skills, written by Kenneth A. Lane, Optometrist, he says, “For a child to have the eye movement skills necessary to keep his eyes on the proper letters in a word when he reads and to be able to have the eye-hand coordination skills necessary to write, his motor skills must be developed to the point of being automatic.”
To do this, try these activities below using the tools shown for greater learning development.
For this activity, here is the Tailgate360 Ring Toss. Have your child or student take the ring in their hand and toss it over the sticks. As you will see, those children who struggle with hand-eye coordination find this activity to be very difficult, even when they are standing close to the ring stand.
As your child or student progresses, have them step further back from the ring stand and toss the rings for a more difficult challenge.
For our ball toss, use a medium foam ball that is soft. With your child or student, toss the ball back and forth to each other. Instruct them to keep their eyes on the ball at all times.
If your child or student is doing the activity alone, have them toss the ball in the air and catch it back in their hands. As they throw the ball in the air, have them track the ball with their eyes as it flies in the air and lands back in their hands.
For our balloon toss, you will need two paddles. Try this Boom Drum Racket Sports Set. When you have the paddles, blow up a few balloons and then have your child use both paddles to hit the balloon in the air.
Balloons provide several benefits for hand-eye coordination. First, because it falls slower, it is easier for children who are younger and have slower reaction times. Using a balloon is also good practice because it flies in several different directions. Your child won’t know which way it will go and will need to use quick visual movements to follow the balloon to its next destination.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs
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