The vision exercises on this website are designed to improve and enhance tracking, focusing, eye teaming, and perceptual skills. To get the most out of these exercises, please follow these guidelines.
Consistent daily exercise is a key component to success in improving and enhancing your child’s vision processing skills. A short time each day is much more effective than longer stretches less frequently. Work 15-20 minutes each day. It’s better to work 15 minutes every day than thirty minutes three times a week. Like homework, it is important to sit aside a time each day to work on these activities. This way it becomes part of your child’s daily routine, and you won’t find yourself tucking your child into bed realizing you never got around to it.
Work with your child. Do not expect your child to do these exercises alone. Children need supervision to ensure they’re doing the exercises correctly and encouragement to keep going. Remember these exercises are not easy for children with under developed visual systems, and most have learned effective avoidance behaviors. They need their parent’s coaching and support to succeed.
In each exercise category, find the appropriate level for your child to begin. Exercises are sequenced by difficulty and visual development levels (large to small, slow to fast, etc.), so generally you should follow the exercises in order. However, if the exercise is too easy, your child could become bored and lose interest. If the technique is too difficult, he/she may become frustrated. However, it should be noted that children with visual processing problems are often experts at avoidance when faced with a challenging visual task and have a tendency to give up too quickly. As their parent and coach, you’ll need to look for middle ground. Don’t push the child to frustration and tears or into a headache, but offer encouragement for tackling the challenge. If it appears that the task is indeed too difficult, this may mean that the visual skills from the previous activities were not totally mastered, and your child may not be ready to move on. Back up to the previous activities and work there. When you try the challenging activity again, do it for only a couple of minutes at a time until your child becomes more comfortable.
Awareness and self-monitoring. An important part of improving your child’s performance is guiding him/her into becoming aware of what his/her eyes are doing. Before you start an exercise, ask your child to take the time to think and plan what he/she must do. During the activity, don’t correct your child but instead ask leading questions: “Are you holding your head still?” “Do you know where your eyes should go next?” “Are you opening up your side vision?” Instructions for each exercise will help you know what questions to ask. The key is to ask, not tell. (“Did your head move?” rather than “You moved your head.”) The first option forces the child to actively self-check, not passively listen. Finally, each time you complete an activity, ask “How do you think you did? What can we do to improve?”
Load the Activity: Once your child can perform the activity with ease, increase the demand. Start with adding cognitive demands. For younger children, ask simple questions: What did you have for lunch? What color are Daddy’s eyes? What is 8 x 7? For older children, you can ask them to counting/spelling backwards or name a city that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Get creative! Then add motor demands to the activity by asking the child to perform the task while standing on one foot, balancing on a balance board, or sitting on an exercise ball. Add an auditory component. Download a metronome app on your smart phone or computer and ask your child to perform activities to a steady beat. “Loading” the activity helps integrate vision with other systems (motor, language, auditory, etc.), a critical component for a well integrated child, but it also means the child is forced to devote part of his effort to another task while still maintaining visual control.
Reward even small improvements with praise and encouragement! Brag to grandparents and friends about his/her improvements. Their efforts need to be acknowledged and encouraged.
Seek the care of a trained doctor if your child struggles with these exercises. This is a strong indication your child needs an evaluation by a developmental optometrist trained to diagnose and treat vision-based learning problems. The eye exercises on this website are meant to improve and enhance your child’s visual skills, but they are not sufficient to remediate vision problems in children with binocular, oculomotor, or accommodative diagnoses. These children need to be under a doctor’s care. See your family eye doctor or contact the College of Optometrists in Vision Development at covd.org to locate a developmental optometrist in your area.