We tend to assume a child can see okay unless something obvious shows us they can't. But also consider whether the child uses their sight well. And what happens when a child has missed out on the normal development of vision? Because just know that vision is part of development along with everything else about a child growing. It is not a matter of being able to see or not. I won't go into the detail, but to begin with a child sees movements, shape and colours. And then vision grows and develops alongside cognitive development. Basically this means that when we know what we are seeing, then we see it. For example, if you see a tree in the distance, you know it is a tree. but if you don't know its a tree then what do you see. And what about that other blob....is that a tree also? There needs to be some unconscious knowledge about categories as well as to make a choice of what that blob could be.
When a child has missed out on early seeing and pairing this with development of knowledge, and is then given glasses, can s/he see immediately? Much improved vision but seeing?? Actually there is a whole gap in knowledge about what is being seen.
And the other gap, is that of using vision. By this, I mean, using vision to look for something, using vision to pair it with auditory information and using vision to track. When a child has such a gap, then these 3 things need to be addressed. So the child might be unused to moving the eyes to track, so they need to learn this. They might be unused to systematically searching for something, so they need to be taught this. They might not know to look towards a sound so they need to be taught this.
If the child has a condition such as dyspraxia, this will affect their ability to motor plan the movements necessary to track people and objects. Some days the plan of the movements will be automatic and other days it won't be. Planning eye movements to read is likely to be affected. The child may skip words because they don't actually see them or because their eyes make jumps instead of moving smoothly along the line. Planning eye movements to be systematic about searching for something can be difficult and lead to frustration. For example, in searching a page for an item, or for a matching letter/shape/colour, the looking may happen irregularly across and down the page, meaning that parts are not scanned and therefore the item is not found.
There is a lot that can be done to develop a child's ability to see. A few ideas which may apply:
1. Matching activity: Matching single cards onto a board of 9 or 12. Teach the child, using your finger to start at the top left and scan each picture across the top row, then the next.....like reading.
2. Hide a toy under one of 3/4 containers in front of the child, without him/her seeing. Teach the child to look at each container until they find it. Of course the child also needs a working memory so that they remember what container they have already looked at.
3. Encourage the child to watch a train go past, or an aeroplane or a car or a dog. Keep talking about it so their attention remains riveted on the vehicle.
4. Make a game of finding things you can see indoors and outside.
5. Search for hidden items in a coloured picture.
6. Point one to one to each word as they learn to read.
7. Find the differences in 2 pictures.
8. Copy simple block structures of 6 or 8 blocks.
9. Copy simple patterns - drawing or blocks.
There are a lot of things to consider when printing letters and words. This blog looks at just one part. That of making the letters the correct size in relation to the others. This is a matter of developing awareness of the relative sizes often enough so that the child automatically and unconsciously checks. The easiest way is to set up a system where the child checks against letters already written or in place. Therefore practising words that have letters that can be checked against is helpful. Using words that begin and end with the letter "t" is great to start with. E.g. tent, treat, tweet. Having "t" at the beginning gives the child the guidance from the start of the word. And then moving on to other words that contain "t". Then learning to check with letters like "h", "d" - those that have a stick with the other part of the letter at half size. While learning, encourage the child to look at the finished word. Maybe even place a ruler there to check. Not being pedantic about it. It's important to be encouraging and motivating.
Books with dotted lines for the tops of the small letters can be used. However, it is not wise to use them for too long because the child may get so used to the dotted line being there that they just cannot print letters the right size without the dotted line. It is of more use to have a way to check within what is being printed.
There are different types of memory. Some parents think that their child's memory is good because they can remember things that happened a year or two ago. This means that their long term memory is good. If a child is doing an activity and they get distracted, is this anything to do with memory? If they get distracted and then start a different activity, is this anything to do with memory? If a child does not follow an instruction do you wonder if their hearing is okay or do you question their memory or do you question their understanding?
There is short term memory - the ability to remember things that happened a few minutes ago and there is working memory - the ability to remember from a few seconds ago.
Children often get distracted by noises and movements going on around them. If they then wander off and are unable to return to the task, then memory is likely to be an issue. If they are doing an activity that requires comparison, then they need to remember to compare. If they can't remember then solving a problem by comparing will be difficult. Most activities require an ability to use a working memory, for a child to stay on task. Printing, reading, maths and all school activities require a good short term and working memory. Of course they will get distracted if working memory is an issue. They may also get distracted for other reasons too.
This involves using vision to remember. Many children have a strength in the visual system. Afterall things that can be seen, remain there and don't disappear like auditory information does. Memory games using cards increase visual memory, e.g. Pairs. Another fun memory game is to have a number of items in a container that the child looks at, then the container is placed out of sight and one item is removed. When the container is again placed in front of the child, the object is for the child to remember what was there and is now missing. The number of items can be small and then increased.
This is remembering sounds, noises and verbalisations. One interesting game is to take turns in this: "I went shopping and I bought a ......" The next person says the same sentence and adds an item to the other person's item. "I went to shopping and I bought a .... and a ..... . This continues until everyone collapses in fits of laughter because everyone is getting mixed up. This game can be used about a variety of circumstances: beach, an island, made a burger,
This is remembering the doing without thinking about it. Sometimes a child needs to be taught a task over and over with physical prompts and physical guidance until they can automatically do the movements involved.
Memory is affected by many things. Happenings with high emotional content are remembered more easily in the long term. Any child needs to be calm and comfortable to enable the best working memory. Some children need quiet, some need to be away from movements of others.
Mazes are a very useful activity for children. They are also fun. They come in a variety of types. There are those for beginners and all levels after. There are those that follow straight lines and those that don't. There are those that have one start and finish, and those that have multiple starts and finishes. Some follow the white between the colour and some follow the colour. Some have wider tracks than others. Some have more corners and twists.
Benefits for children:
Mazes teach control of the pencil. The object is to follow the track without going over the lines. Therefore the child needs to control the direction of the line, stopping or slowing at corners. At the same time there is guidance. Its not like directing the pencil along an imaginary or unknown path such as learning to print letters is. There are boundaries to adhere to. And this gives guidance. At the same time the child needs to learn to think ahead and plan. They need to look where they intend going and plan the movements necessary to get there. So thinking, reasoning, planning and making the movements with control takes place.
Strategies to help:
1. Choose mazes that are clear, have wider tracks and less corners to start with.
2. Encourage the child to look at the maze first, maybe even following the tracks with eyes.
3. Suggest that the child use their finger the trace the path. This invites practice. And might minimize mistakes leading to more success and reinforcement for being able to do the activity. It may or may not help when it comes to using a pencil to do it, depending on how the child's memory works.
4. Encourage the child to draw slowly, looking ahead as they do it, and to slow down even more for corners so that the turn can be executed with care and planning.
5. Point out the great parts of what they have done. It is not just about getting to the end. Comment on the parts where the line did not touch the sides, where there was a definite angle at a corner, where you noticed that they thought ahead and drew with care.