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During my latest series, we’ve been taking a look at the different skills that are included in fine motor development. Today let’s take a look at eye-hand coordination, including what it is, how it developments, and eye-hand coordination activities for children.

What is Eye-Hand Coordination?

You may see this skill referred to as hand-eye coordination. It is the coordinated control and movement of the eyes and hands that guide our reaching, grasping, etc. ⠀
It uses the proprioception system in the hand and/or legs and visual system to coordinate these movements. ⠀

Eye-Hand Coordination Development

Eye-hand coordination begins to develop between 4 and 14 months old, when a baby begins to use their hands and legs to explore around them. Together with visual input and developing fine motor skills, a baby begins to grasp and hold objects, while fine tuning these movements as they grow.

The visual system is comprised of more than just visual acuity, being able to distinguish what the eyes see. It also involves being able to fixate on objects, eye movement abilities, focusing, eye aiming (convergence) and eye teaming (binocularity), and controlling eye and hand movements.

Fine motor skills need movement and coordination of the small muscles in the hand and arm in order to complete tasks and activities.

Let’s take a look at some of the eye-hand coordination skills a child masters at different ages.

Birth to 3 years old

  • Develops the vision needed in order to start following objects with their eyes
  • Begin basic eye-hand activities such as grasping, reaching, feeding and dressing
  • Start to recognize directions such as up, down, in and out
  • Begin to manipulate smaller objects using fine motor skills

3 Years Old to 5 Years Old

  • Start to develop a preference of right of left handedness
  • Continue to understand concepts such as direction and and place such as up, down, under, beside
  • Climbing, jumping, running, galloping, pushing, pulling, and climbing stairs one stair at a time
  • Fine tune eye/hand/body coordination and eye teaming as well as depth perception

Children above the age of 5 continue to fine tune all these skills as well as learn to visually attend to and focus during school work activities in the classroom or at home. They also tend to decide whether to be right or left handed between 5 and 7 years old (handedness).

Eye-Hand Coordination Difficulties

Eye-hand coordination is important for a variety of tasks including handwriting, participating in sports, grasping and moving objects, etc. ⠀

Difficulty with eye-hand coordination can look like a lack of drawing or writing skills, unable to stay within the lines for coloring, or difficulty catching or kicking a ball. ⠀

Remember to check when these skills are age-appropriate for your child to complete. And as always, if you have concerns talk to your child’s doctor.

Eye-hand coordination skills can also be affected by vision impairment and/or loss or motor problems such as ataxia (lack of coordination of voluntary movements) or hypertonia (abnormally increased muscle tone which affects the muscle’s ability to stretch). ⠀

Activities to Promote Eye-Hand Coordination

Some activities to encourage and promote eye-hand coordination include:

  • Batting at a balloon ⠀
  • Kicking or catching a ball ⠀
  • Playing tennis ⠀
  • Playing and building with blocks ⠀
  • Connect the dots ⠀
  • Stringing beads ⠀
  • Playing Simon Says ⠀
  • Puzzles ⠀
  • Relay races ⠀

Resources and sources for this topic are listed below:

Hand-Eye Coordination – Children’s Health

Hand-Eye Coordination Activities – OT Mom Learning Activities

For more resources like this one, check out the links below.

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