Summer is the best time to do something to help your child if there is a learning issue, especially if there are some visual processing problems. During the school year the student comes home from school exhausted, with strained eyes and a fatigued mind. Are you giving your child a break, letting him/her rest for three long months, thinking that the next school year might be better? This might be a mistake.
The eyes let in light, but we see with our brains. Both the eyes and the brain need to work together to view the world accurately and efficiently. So, if your child is struggling to see correctly, then a long break is not going to help, but hurt. Just like training for a marathon, the muscles in the eyes need to be worked out. The brain needs to practice “seeing” information correctly as well.
Here are some activities you can do this summer to help your child with visual processing problems. Keep in mind that these activities will help, but they won’t correct a learning problem alone.
1.) Get an eye patch. Cover one of the student’s eyes and have him/her follow a target such as a popsicle stick with a dot on it. Move the target slowly in a circle and back and forth movements. Look for jerky eye movements. This indicates the eye muscles are weak. Switch the patch to the other eye and repeat the exercise. Do this every day if possible until eye movements become more smooth and fluid.
2.) Make a large chart of some random letters and numbers and pin it to the wall. Make a similar chart with smaller letters and numbers and have the student hold the small chart in his/her hand. Have the student stand about ten to fifteen feet from the large chart and have him/her take turns reading a number or letter from the large chart and then a number or letter from the small chart. Continue until all of the letters and numbers are read. If the student struggles, simply shorten the length of the activity and slowly build up to longer sessions.
3.) Get a bucket and some clothespins. Have the student stand up by the bucket and drop clothespins into the bucket one by one. Once the student becomes proficient at this, then you can patch an eye and have the student repeat the procedure. Then patch the other eye and repeat.
4.) Dot-to-dots, mazes, lacing cards, and coloring pages are all useful and helpful commercial activities that you can use to help your child with visual processing problems.
Since the visual processing system is the most important, we concentrate on these key skills and gradually increase the demand throughout our entire program. By the time the student is finished, his/her visual system is in place, which in turn helps academics become a breeze.