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Hand-eye Coordination and Visual Discrimination Key to Literacy
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your child’s early literacy development is to just let them play. Turn off the TV and anything else that runs on batteries, then let your child pick up his toys, build blocks or duplos, or manipulate puzzles or game pieces. Not only do you give your child the gift of childhood, something you often fail to do in today’s fast-paced, achievement-oriented world, but you actually help them build skills that are key to learning to read. and write
Hand-eye coordination is a necessary skill for written language and the best way to help your child develop this skill is to let them play with games and activities that involve looking, using and discriminating a number of elements. Puzzles are obviously a great activity for this, but so are manipulative toys like blocks, duplos and magnetix.
My son spent over an hour tonight playing dominoes with his dad – OK, they didn’t so much play as create complex patterns and then knock them over – but I didn’t tell them that they they were engaged in a preliteracy activity. . They were just having fun together.
Studies have shown that spending time on hand-eye coordination activities improves children’s ability to learn to read and decreases the difficulty they face during the process. In fact, engaging in a variety of craft activities, which most children love, can be very beneficial, so add play dough, stickers and glue sticks to your list of educational supplies.
Research shows that early practice of hand-eye coordination activities reduces the risk of reading difficulties.
ACTIVITIES TO ENCOURAGE
Puzzles help develop hand-eye coordination because learning to control hands and fingers according to information received from sight is a coordination skill that helps children in their first attempts to read and write. Determining which piece goes where, working to fit pieces into place by making adjustments, and seeing a sequence develop into an organized pattern can be a great and very satisfying learning experience for children.
Puzzles, matching games and the like are also important in helping children learn visual discrimination. Visual discrimination is the brain’s ability to quickly tell the difference between visually similar letters such as “p”, “b” and “q” or between words such as “was” and “saw”. Students who have difficulty making these distinctions often struggle to learn to read, write, and spell. Playing games, participating in activities, or with toys that help children discriminate between similar objects can be fun for the child and help master an important preliteracy skill. My son likes to help his father to change his lot before throwing it to be deposited at the bank. Of course, we could use an electronic sorter, but our son loves to engage in the activity and it is a valuable learning experience for him.
Visual discrimination can often be learned with your child’s existing toys. Matchbox cars, dolls, and action figures offer opportunities for your child to learn visual discrimination.
They encourage children to work their wrist and finger muscles, and to work on their coordination and fine motor skills to help prepare them for writing practice in their future. Activities to help with these goals include lego and other building sets, playdough, puzzles, pegboards, beads and other board games. These fun and natural activities help children improve their cognitive and fine motor skills without frustration or boredom.
My son engages in many activities every day that encourage hand-eye coordination and visual discrimination. I do not suggest the activity. Better toys and manipulators available to him and he chooses himself. The varied activities can go a whole week building and rebuilding their wooden train every day and then the following week their magnetix set dominates their play time. Some days he plays with both together and pulls in his duplos and wooden blocks for more fun. I don’t care what activity he chooses because I know he’s having fun, challenging his imagination and learning.
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