As occupational therapy is something that we at Kidz Therapy Networks in Gwinnett County specialize in, we know how important ocular motor skills are when it comes to our little angels.
These types of skills are necessary reading development and writing motor skills. More specifically, Ocular motor skills deals with the ability to move your eyes mechanically fast and precise, when the occasion is called for.
Examples of Ocular Motor Skills
Some examples of this could be what’s called “visual tracking or visual pursuits, which basically means the ability to follow slow moving targets without having to move your head. There is also what’s called “saccades” which is the ability for your eyes to quickly move from one target to the other. Finally there is Convergence or otherwise known as Divergence. This is the ability to focus on something moving towards you and away from you.
Why Ocular Motor Skills are Important
While this is something that is often overlooked, having strong ocular motor skills helps out with other motor skills elsewhere such as hand and finger movement. When both are working as they should, they work hand in hand with each other. If you notice that your child is having problems with vision, the first thing you may want to do is to go to an optometrist to rule out any need for glasses or those types of visual problems.
Below are some activities that build your motor skills while having fun
- Marked balls- You may already have a bouncing ball laying around your house, if not, go and buy a cheap one, one that allows you to write on it with a permanent marker. On that ball, write out random letters or number and be sure to spread them out, not too close to each other. Then, put a target on your wall with a big X on it. This could be done with poster board or paper taped to your wall. Have your child try and hit the target using both hands, then try to retrieve the ball, or catch it. Once they do catch it, have them read the number or letter that is in frontal display. This practice works on your child’s visual motor skills by having them toss the ball and catch it, as well as working on the ‘saccades’ or visual fixation.
- Worksheets- Word searches, dot to dots, mazes are all great activities for for working on these skills as well, and keeps the child entertained while being challenged. You can find these online for free ready to print, or take a few home next time you’re at a restaurant. Child menus usually carry these types of activities.
- Find an App- Your Ipad or tablet may offer downloadable apps for kids that are perfect for training your children. One in particular is an app called ” Visual Training 1.” This app is ideal for helping build visual motor skills for your child. Another is ABC touch, where your child gets to pop balloons in alphabetical order. Finally try out one called Dexteria Jr– that carry 3 different types of games, all which are great for building visual-motor skills.