It’s hard to imagine that newborn babies can only see about 8-12 inches away, with anything beyond all a blur. It’s even harder to imagine just how crucial a strong visual system is for a child’s overall development, with 80% of learning in the first 12 years coming through the eyes.
With such a huge window of opportunity, parents and caregivers alike can take advantage of toys and play to help stimulate and sharpen a child’s vision.
Here are activities for 3 different age stages you can try with your child:
When a baby is able to safely sit on his or her own, a simple game of roll-the-ball can help stimulate depth perception and eye movement/tracking. Be sure to choose a soft ball (preferably with high contrast) and start close, slowly working your way further back from the child. While the goal here is to stimulate a baby’s sense of sight, keep in mind this time is a treasure trove for verbal and social development, too. Describe what you are doing at all times and reinforce turn-taking skills.
For younger babies, brightly colored mobiles will fit the bill.
Toddlers & preschoolers
Now poised to interact at a more complex level, try engaging your toddler with age-appropriate puzzles or parquetry blocks (brightly colored geometric shapes) to learn spatial awareness and appreciate figure-ground relationships. That’s the ability to focus on 1 specific piece of information in a busy background (think I Spy).
Swap out the tablet for activities such as connect the dots, fill in the dots, mazes or tracing, which can enhance fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination and eye movement/tracking skills. To get started, check out this special back-to-school guide chock-full of fun vision games and info from our friends at Pearle Vision, who have been caring for members of the community – including kids – since 1961. Play fun vision games alongside of Iris and Lash, Pearle Vision’s Eye Squad that is helping keep kids eyes healthy and strong.
Staying up-to-date with eye exams can help ensure your child isn’t the 1 in every 4 school-age kids who has an undetected vision problem. And be certain to opt for a comprehensive eye exam, which can uncover issues like farsightedness and eye coordination that would likely be missed during a basic school screening. Find an eye doctor near you today.