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Visual skills

Children use visual perceptual skills to make sense of what they see. Their eyes send visual information to the brain which interprets the information and make sense of everything. There are different visual perception skills which all work together to help your child learn to read and write.

What are visual motor skills?

Visual motor skills allow us to process information around us. They help coordinate our hands, legs, and the rest of our body’s movements with what our eyes perceive.  Visual motor skills are essential for coordinated and efficient use of our hands and eyes.

These skills include fine motor, gross motor, and sensory motor skills.

Visual motor abilities include our ability to observe, recognize, and use visual information about forms, shapes, figures, and objects.

Visual motor integration

This is how we interpret visual information and respond with a motor action, for example, how we use our hands. Visual perception, eye-hand coordination, and visual processing skills all play a part in visual motor skill development so that we can perceive and process visual information.  We then use that information with motor skills to manipulate and move objects in tasks and activities.

How do I know if my child has visual motor skills difficulties?

You may notice your child struggles in the following areas:

Written work and reading

Your child may have:

  • a habit of reversing letters
  • poor handwriting awareness
  • poor use of margins
  • difficulty copying written work
  • poor pencil control
  • difficulty keeping their place when reading and writing.

Patterns, shapes and drawing

Your child may struggle with:

  • recognising patterns and completing hands-on maths problems
  • puzzles
  • drawing and copying pictures or shapes
  • copying block forms
  • perceiving and copying shapes.

Movement and play

Your child may struggle with clumsiness and have problems:

  • catching or kicking a ball
  • playing movement games like hopscotch.
  • with sports.

Activities to help support your child with visual motor skill difficulties

Drawing and tracing activities

Draw a four leaf clover on paper. Ask your child to sit down and re-trace the drawing. You could do this on a driveway or pavement using chalk. Or make coin rubbings. You could also ask your child to trace other items such as leaves, paper clips, or keys.

You could also draw in the air with pointer fingers or draw in a sand table.

Folding activities

You could fold:

  • paper airplanes and ask your child to fly it into a target
  • a paper fan
  • paper footballs – add a math concept or sight word practice to make it educational
  • origami – follow step-by-step instructions in a how-to book.

Making paper objects

You could make paper hats, paper dolls and paper chains and make patterns around a room.

You might also make:

  • paper snowflakes – fold and cut paper towel snowflakes or cupcake liner snowflakes
  • paper helicopters and fly them from to drop them into a target
  • a paper fortune teller – add educational aspects such as maths facts or definitions
  • paper boats – see how far they can float with added weight.

For further motor skills, you could ask your child to throw paper snowballs into a basket.  Ask them to move further back and add in obstacle courses.

Creative activities

You could also use finger paints, ribbon sticks and musical instruments like bells or maracas.  Or scrunch paper into small pieces and glue them onto artwork.

Ask your child to tear paper in long strips or simple shapes.

Or play paper and pencil games, for example, tic tac toe or dots and boxes.