As discussed in the "The Best Visual Systems are Made – Part 1", the best visual systems develop over time with the achievement of specific developmental visual milestones. This article will discuss activities parents and caregivers can provide to aid in the optimal development of the visual system. What can parents and caregivers do to encourage the development of an infant’s visual system?
Play, play, play!
Provide three dimensional play activities for the baby as soon as he/she is able to sit up.
Do not rush to walking. Crawling is important in the development of future handwriting skills as crawling develops bones in the hand, upper arm strength, and stimulates receptors in the hand.
Encourage daily outdoor play. Provide a lot of gross motor activity.
No television! In an ideal world, there would be no television viewing before the age of 4 as the more TV that is watched, the less time is available for the development of eye-hand coordination.
Nutrition! Many nutritionists believe that children who do not get enough protein in utero and during the first four years of life may be intellectually compromised forever. A child needs 2 grams of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight.
Children with visually-related learning disorders often have a history of antibiotic use (think chronic ear infections). Antibiotics destroy the normal flora in the gut and foster the overgrowth of yeast. Yeast releases alcohol into the body as a by-product of consuming sugary and high carbohydrate meals. Parents have to provide a healthy diet for the child.
Supplements frequently recommended include Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D3, probiotics, and JuicePlus.
Specific activities for motor and perceptual development
As soon as the baby can sit up, provide eye/hand training toys. Around age 2, begin to teach self-care and art. Introduce puzzles and beads. These activities involve movement and require eye-hand coordination and binocular vision.
Around ages 3 and 4, teach concepts of quantity, patterns, and shapes to develop manipulation and creative thinking skills.
Around 5, see if the child can develop a 3D object from a two dimensional drawing with Legos, K-nex or Lincoln logs. Encourages building with simple blocks and parquetry blocks to aid visual perceptual skills.
Preschool children must learn how to use vision to guide other learning experiences.