Vision Development

Jul 1st, 2020

Smiley Riley

Did you know that wiring for vision happens during the first two years of your child’s life? If your child is between the ages of two and five, then you can help enhance your child’s vision wiring through repetitive activities of examining visual images. In this post, I will share vision activities for children ages birth to 5 ½ years old. All activities came from Active Baby, Healthy Brain by Margaret Sassé. To clarify, these activities are to work on vision and not eyesight. Eyesight is your ability to see which can vary greatly between person as well as overtime. Vision, however, is the ability to process what you are seeing and is something that can be improved with practice.

Vision activities for zero to two months: Focus is on stimulating your infant’s eyes with light and movement

  • Lots of tummy time gives your child a chance to look at different things and see different light and movement. It also helps their near vision development.
  • Dim light in the nursery: Stimulate your infant’s eyes by exposing them to flickering lights for a few minutes a few times a day.
  • Mobiles: Hang a mobile above the changing table or above your child’s playmat. The mobile should be about 12 inches from your infant’s face.

Vision activities for two to six months: Focus is on tracking and depth perception

  • Mobiles: Bring those mobiles closer as they help your child develop depth perception and judge distance.
  • Rattles: Hold a rattle an arm’s length away from your infant’s eyes and encourage your infant to turn their head to the sound of the rattle.

Vision activities for crawlers and walkers: Focus is on visual tracking and hand-eye coordination

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  • Visual tracking: Move a ball up, down, around, across, near, and far. Your child may have to crawl to find the ball. As they crawl towards the ball, your child’s eyes are working to focus on the toy from different distances. This helps with visual convergence.

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  • Slot Drop/Posting: This is working on eye-hand coordination. See Slot Drop for more.

Vision activities for 15 to 18 months: Focus is on visual tracking and the eyes adjusting to varying distances.

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  • Hitting a balloon with a fly swatter: Model how to fit a hanging balloon back and forth first with your hand. Be sure to switch hands during the activity and encourage your child to as well to practice both sides. Then hand your child a fly swatter and have them hit the hanging balloon back and forth. Switch hands holding the fly swatter as well. To help work off some energy, have your child chase the balloon around the house with the fly swatter. Note: It is important to closely supervise your child as they play with balloons. Balloons can be choking hazards.

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  • Roll the ball: Roll a ball back and forth between your child. Your child should be watching the ball as it goes further away and comes closer to them.

Vision activities for 18-24 months: Focus is on visual tracking and the eyes adjusting to varying distances.

  • Visual tracking: Play lots of rolling games! Roll balls along the ground, and in and out of things. Roll a ball around the inside of a hula-hoop. Encourage your child to cover one eye and track the ball. Then switch eyes. Try having your child track the ball without moving their head, just their eyes.
  • Flashlight tracking: Give your child a flashlight so both you and your child have your own flashlight. Encourage your child to follow your flashlight with their flashlight. Flash the light on the ceiling and walls. Ask your child to shine their light on different objects in the room.

Vision activities for 24- 30 months: Focus is on visual tracking at far and near distances.

  • Far point visual tracking: Hold a favorite toy a full arms distance away from your child. Move the toy all around- behind your back, up, down, back and forth, and in a circle. Encourage your child to follow the toy with their eyes.
  • Near point visual tracking: Hang a ball at your child’s eye level and let it swing. Your child should be their arm’s distance away and watch the ball swing back and forth. Can they follow it with just their eyes?

Vision activities for 2 ½ years to 3 ½ years: Focus is on peripheral vision

  • Hanging Ball: Hang a foam ball at your child’s shoulder level and encourage your child to hit the ball. Your child should alternate their hands. For added balance, encourage your child to try to raise the knee on the same side as the hand hitting the ball. As your child requires more of a challenge, have them name which hand they are using to hit the ball (left or right) and then to raise the opposite knee of the hand hitting the ball for balance. You can also lower the ball to knee height and have your child hit the ball with their alternating knees. To encourage development of peripheral vision, have your child focus on the ball as they name objects around the room.
  • Peripheral vision: Have your child stand and point to an object. Staying focused on the object, ask your child to tell you what else they see in the room while still looking at the object. For an added balance challenge, have your child hold a bird/dog position (from hands and knees, lift opposite arm and leg) while focusing on an object and naming other things they see in the room.

Vision activities for 3 ½ to 4 ½ years: Do these activities for no more than one minute at a time. Focus is on the eyes tracking and adjusting to varying distances as well as peripheral vision.

  • Visual accommodation: Hold an object in front of your child and ask them to watch it as you slowly move it toward them (about 2 inches from the nose) and then back again. Stop moving the object toward your child if they see two of the objects. Have your child try holding the object and moving it close and far.
  • Kicking a hanging ball: Encourage your child to kick a hanging ball with alternating feet. Have them name each foot (right or left) as they kick. Your child should swing the opposite arm forward as they kick the ball for balance.

Vision activities for 4 ½ to 5 ½ years: Focus is on hand-eye coordination.

  • Rolling: Have your child lay on their tummy with their arms over their head. They should be straight like a pencil. Place a ball above their head just out of reach. Have your child focus their eyes on the ball as they roll over keeping their body straight.
  • Swinging Ball: Continue to play Hanging Ball and Kicking a hanging ball as it is good for hand-eye and foot-eye coordination!

Information from this post came from the following resources:

  • The Complete Resource Book for Infants by Pam Schiller
  • Active Baby, Healthy Brain by Margaret Sassé

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