The holiday season is on our doorstep. With technology so much a part of our lives, the easy go-to gifts for kids often include an enormous array of hand-held video devices and home gaming systems. Did you know that after extensive use these games can be harmful to children’s eyes and might even induce eye strain and focusing issues?
If you want to buy wisely for your children or grandchildren this year, choose a fun gift that actually develops and promotes visual skills such as eye hand coordination, visualization, depth and space perception and fine motor skills all while they have fun playing.
Here is a list of games and toys that help to develop visual skills, while engaging children in fun activities.
First, a basic rule: Always ensure the toys are suited to the child's development and level of maturity. Manufacturers often provide suggested ages for a toy, but keep the individual child in mind as children develop at different rates.
1. What to buy: building toys
How they help children's vision: develop eye hand coordination and visualization and imagination skills.
Examples: Lego, Duplo, Mega Bloks, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Clics
2. What to buy: fine motor skill toys and arts and crafts
How they help children's vision: develop visual skills and manual eye hand coordination.
Examples: finger paints, playdough, coloring books, dot to dot activities, pegboard and pegs, origami sets, stringing beads, whiteboard/easel/chalkboard.
3. What to buy: space perception toys and games
How they help children's vision: develop depth perception and eye hand coordination.
Examples within arm’s length: pick- up sticks, marbles, Jenga
Examples beyond arm’s length: any kind of ball, ping pong, bean bag toss.
4. What to buy: visual/spatial thinking toys and games
How they help children's vision: develop visual thinking including visualization, visual memory, form perception, pattern recognition, sequencing and eye tracking skills. These skills are vital basics for academics including mathematics, reading and spelling.
Examples: memory games, jigsaw puzzles, Rory's story cubes, card games (Old Maid, Go Fish, etc.), Dominoes, checkers, Chinese checkers, Rush Hour/Rush Hour Jr., Bingo, Color Code, Math Dice.
5. What to buy: balance and coordination toys and games
How they help children's vision: develop gross motor skills which require use of vision
Examples: jump rope, trampoline, stilts, Twister.
As you can see, there are plenty of amazing toys available to improve your child's visual skills. The best part is, many of them take the children away from the screen and get them thinking, moving and creating. This year, choose a holiday present that will help your children grow, develop and see a better future.
Dr. David Hite