VISUAL TRAINING TOYS
Toys are a very useful means of stimulating your child’s vision development. Take care however, for they can also be a hazard and the safety of your baby is always your primary concern and responsibility. Make sure the toys you buy and use for the suggested activities in this web site are not so small that they can be swallowed or put into a nose or ear. Click on the appropriate age range for suggested games and activities to stimulate your child’s vision.
Given the importance of efficient visual function in our modern way of living, it is recommended that vision development not be left no chance. Ideally all children should be examined at the age of 6 months, 3 years, and yearly thereafter.
The American Optometric Association agrees that current research proves the old theory wrong. The success rate does drop off as one gets older, but the cut-off at age six is arbitrary. Age should not be a barrier, though the longer the condition has existed the more difficult it becomes to treat.
Treatment varies depending on the extent of the condition, the patients’ age and the optometrist. Small children often have their stronger eye patched for several hours a day. This stimulates the use of the weak eye while they perform exercises such as coloring, cutting things out and tracing.
Vision therapy – usually several hours a week, in the doctor’s office and at home – will often correct the underlying reason for the lazy eye. Very small children can improve in a month or two; older children may take several months to a year to respond.
With adults, treatment is basically the same, but it takes longer. Adults may not wear a patch at all if vision is very poor, or only for an hour or two at home while doing fine tasks such as coloring in the 0’s of a newspaper. Patients do exercises designed to improve focusing, tracking and spatial judgment.
Many times after treatment, 50 percent of the older children and adults see as well or almost as well with their lazy eye as with their normal eye, and four out of five of the rest at least show improvement. Results are permanent when both the amblyopia and the underlying problem are corrected. When the latter can’t be treated, patients should continue the exercises on a less-frequent basis and visit their optometrist periodically so that the eye does not weaken again.
0-3 Months General motor and Bilateral development
- Playfully move your baby’s arms and legs, separately then in various combinations.
- Raise and lower your baby while you look into each other’s eyes.
- Bounce your baby gently on the bed or on your knee.
- Gently and playfully massage the baby’s body with baby lotion or powder.
- Place a picture of a face 20-40 cms from the baby’s eyes. The face should be about 18 cms in diameter and the eyes in the face should be about 2 cms in diameter. Place the face on one side of the bassinet and change sides regularly until the age of about two months. Then hang it form the middle to the bassinet. Make sure you place the face so that the baby has the opportunity of looking towards each side of their body.
- Provide multi-colored objects for your baby to look at. Place them in various positions within baby’s view, giving opportunities to look in different directions. Make sure your baby doesn’t face on side of the bassinet or a wall, using one eye all the time. Change the position of your baby or that of the bassinet occasionally.
- Take a large patterned object (eg. A doll or balloon) with a bell attached, and move it in front of your baby’s face, 20-30 cms from the eyes. Move the object slowly from side to side. Visual-auditory co-ordination
- Place noisy rattles with different textures in your baby’s hands so that they can be shaken and placed in the mouth. Remember to talk and sing to your baby.
- Eye-hand co-ordination Make a bridge between the two sides of the crib and hang objects that will invite swatting. Make sure that the objects change pattern or make a noise as they move.
4-8 Months General Motor and Bilateral development
- Place a kickable mobile at the end of the bassinet.
- Place a plastic mirror (without sharp edges) in a place where your baby will catch a view of themselves.
- Roll a patterned ball towards your baby while sitting on the floor.
- Play peek-a-boo with your baby.
- Walk in front of your baby, pulling a desirable pull-toy, eg. A dog on a string.
- Jingle a set of toy keys approximately 30 cms in front of your baby’s eyes to stimulate eye-following abilities. Do this from left to right and back, then up and down and so forth.
- Tie objects onto the side of the highchair so your baby will throw them to the floor and you can retrieve them more easily. Make sure they make different sounds as they reach the end of the string.
- At bath time, provide toys that can float towards and away from baby.
- Play a ‘choo-choo’ game with food as it is spooned into the ‘tunnel’ (mouth). Have baby watch the ‘train’ all the way into the tunnel.
- Provide wind-up toys that walk towards and away form your baby while they are watching.
9-18 Months General Motor and Bilateral Development
- Creep through, around, over and under a family furniture obstacle course.
- Hold your baby’s hand and encourage jumping off a small step. Try to do it over a very low object.
- Play nursery games like Patty-Cake and Ten Little Indians.
- Allow your baby to climb a safe set of stairs.
- Identify objects in large baby books.
- Sort pictures of different family members. Ask your baby to identify which picture is of which family member.
- Provide a grab-bag of objects to identify by reaching in, guessing what it is, and then pulling it out to see if it is
- Play ball on the floor.
- Occasionally use balls that have unpredictable movements.
- Stacking and Nesting toys.
- Fill-able objects and pouring toys
- Toy Xylophone/Telephone
Binocular co-ordination: Two-eye Teaming
- When your baby is on a swing, stay in front of the swing and maintain eye contact.
- Have your baby use a large plastic hammer with large pegs.
- Have your baby pour water into a container. As this skill improves, provide containers with smaller openings.
- Ball or beanbag throwing onto an area of the floor or into a basket.
- Try a balloon catch.
Size, shape and spatial concepts
- Have your baby place objects together that belong together, like all cups, all spoons, plates, cars, or dolls.
- Hide an object and have your baby find it.
- Scramble a stack of Lego blocks and then have your baby pick out only one type of block. For example, pick out all the blue ones, although there are red and blue scattered together. Or pick out all the blocks that look alike.
18 Months – 3 Years General Motor and Bilateral Movement
- Kiddy car.
- Incline boards or varying widths.
- Wheelbarrow game. Hold the child’s legs (at the thigh or knees if necessary) and have your child walk on their hands.
- Playing jump on the trampoline.
Visual Focusing and Identification
- Puzzles with geometric shapes, animals and community figures.
- On a trip to the supermarket, let your child find objects you are looking for.
- Make sure they only have a narrow field to search.
- Large wooden beads for stringing.
- Sort three different shapes. Place 3 cups in a horizontal row before your child. Ask your child to place the buttons into the first, marbles in the second and pegs into the third, etc.
- Living room bowling: roll a ball to knock down milk cartons.
- Visual-Motor Co-ordination (eye-hand, eye-foot and eye-body).
- Wind up toys.
- Slap a floating balloon (try to keep it from touching the ground).
- Finger paints and modeling clay.
- Place a magnet on a string and hang it from the end of a stick. Have your child ‘fish’ for metal objects.
- Help feed Daddy. Put food into Daddy’s mouth.
- Place coins in a coin box or piggy bank.
Size, shape and spatial concepts
- String beads or buttons according to size and shape.
- Learn to help set the table.
3 – 4 Years
From this age on, most games stimulate an intricate combination of the necessary developing motor and visual skills (visual tracking and binocularity). The following games are recommended at this stage:
- Climbing equipment
- Wagons and wheel-barrows
- Blunt scissors
- Crayons and paints
- Blowing bubbles
- Construction toys
- Musical Instruments
- Water play and sand play
- Dressing dolls and lacing shoes
- Toys with large nuts, bolts and wrench
During this stage, it is time to help with the development of visual memory. Toys and games for this purpose include:
- Match photographs to a past holiday or place visited.
- Hide and object and explain where it is, then have your child find it.
- Build a simple pattern with blocks and hide it. See if your child can remember and build one like it.
Continue to describe all the things and qualities your child sees in their environment. This will include descriptions
of sizes, of color, of weight, of relative positions, of time sequence, etc. When you read to your child, have them
point to the pictures to show you what you are reading about.
This is also a good time to let them draw, finger paint, or sculpt the things from the stories you have read to them.
All creative expression should be appreciated for what it is – their own inner imagery of a fertile, childlike world.
As a parent, you should watch for signs that may indicate a vision development problem, including a short attention span
for the child’s age; difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination in ball play and bike riding; avoidance of coloring and
puzzles and other detailed activities.
4 – 5 Years
The following toys and games are recommended at this stage:
- Trapeze and swinging rings
- Roller skates
- Cars, dump trucks, bulldozers
- Doll house
- Jump rope
- Easel and paint
- Cutting and pasting materials
- Connecting dots
- Coloring books
- Scooters (bicycles with trainer wheels)
- Construction toys such as Tinker Toys or Lego
- Tracing within a maze
- Frisbee throwing
This is the time to encourage and help foster visualization abilities. Dressing up and role playing are excellent ways for your child to develop the ability to see and feels if he or she were another person in another place. Provide play material and costumes for acting out the parts of Mommy and Daddy at work or at a favorite pastime, a community figure such as a fireman or policewoman, or someone you have read about or seen on a visit together. Start off the game by asking What if you were _______? What do you think you would do? What would you feel? What do you see?
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