What is hand-eye coordination?
Hand-eye coordination refers to the ability to use both our eyes and hands at the same time while performing actions and carrying out activities. It brings together our visual and motor skills, with our eyes providing the visual-spatial perception that helps our brains to understand where our bodies are in a space. Then, based on the visual information from our eyes, our brains simultaneously guide our hands to move and perform a task with intention. This is also known as visual motor integration.
Why is hand-eye coordination important?
Hand-eye coordination is a term we often hear about when people are talking about playing video games. In truth, however, we need hand-eye coordination to perform all sorts of daily tasks, from writing and tying our shoelaces to driving. Because it plays such an important role in everything that we do throughout our lives, hand-eye coordination is a particularly vital skill for children to develop. The synchronisation between their eyes and body movements help lay the foundations for a child’s ability to learn, perform life skills and play sports, which are essential for success at school.
How to improve your child’s hand-eye coordination
As your child grows, their hand-eye coordination will develop naturally, but there are ways for you to help strengthen their hand-eye coordination through play. Here are several play activities that you can do with your child at home:
Gross motor play
Play activities that involve your child’s large muscles in the arms, legs and torso:
- Catching, throwing and kicking a ball
- Working in the garden
- Skipping rope
- Batting at a balloon
- Bouncing a ball against a wall
- Throw bean bags into a container
Opt for play where our child uses their hands to manipulate objects, which helps prepare for life skills like feeding and dressing, such as:
- Building a tower
- Stacking blocks
- Constructing Lego(r)
- Shape sorters, puzzles and pegboards
- Stringing beads
- Sewing or knitting
- Painting or drawing a picture.
Educational digital games
Choose video, online or mobile games that challenge the brain to carry out tasks with precision and efficiency, such as Tetris, Pacman, Cut the Rope and Space Invaders.
Problems with hand-eye coordination
If your child is having difficulties with hand-eye coordination, it may be difficult to spot and go unnoticed. Here are examples that you can look out for:
- A lack of drawing or writing skills
- Unable to stay within the lines when colouring
- Difficulty catching or kicking a ball
- Messy handwriting
- Appearing clumsy and uncoordinated
- Avoids dressing themselves
- Avoids drawing, writing or playing sports
It is best to check if these skills are age-appropriate for your child, and to bear in mind that each child is unique and will develop and master skills at different paces. Should you have any concerns about your child’s hand-eye coordination and development, please do not hesitate to talk to your child’s doctor or a paediatric specialist.
This article was reviewed by The Energy Source’s Director, Physiotherapist and Sensory Practitioner, Joanna Hutt.