There are several key developmental skills that our little ones should be practicing regularly. One of them is the development of hand-eye coordination.
What is hand-eye coordination?
Basically, it’s when your hands and sight work together simultaneously to be able to do things that require speed and accuracy such as catching or hitting a ball - activities that use the information our eyes perceive (visual spatial perception) to tell our brain to guide our hands to carry out a movement. In reality, pretty much everything we do with our hands, uses hand-eye coordination – when we pick up a toy, when we drink from a cup, when we play an instrument, when we turn the page of a book, when we play a game on the ipad, etc.
With little ones, their hand-eye coordination starts to develops as learn to grasp objects, build blocks, stack pegs, throw and catch a ball… and eventually as they learn to write. What may surprise you is that strong hand-eye coordination skills also help with reading – as it helps to strengthen visual tracking, needed to scan the words from left to right and from line to line. After all, our brain needs to track the position of the pencil (hand-eye) and control the hand and finger movements (fine motor).
It is thought that good hand-eye coordination correlates with a child’s ability to learn and communicate. As a result, children with effective hand-eye coordination often have superior reading, writing and math skills due to their well-developed visual tracking skills.
But hand-eye coordination doesn’t work in isolation. Carrying out a task involves other areas of development too. Let’s think about a scenario where you’ve asked your child to fetch her favorite toy from her room. What other skills will she be using?
The vestibular system – this contributes to her sense of balance and spatial orientation so she can coordinate movement with balance
Visual tracking – this allows her to scan her room to find her toy
Visual discrimination – this helps her discriminate her toy from the other objects in her room
Proprioception – this relates to her sense of how her body moves and how much strength she needs to use – it’s sometimes described as the “sixth sense.” In essence, when we move, our brain figures out how much force and effort to apply to the task and responds accordingly.
Gross Motor Skills – this is the movement of the large muscles in her body to move her arms, legs, head so that she can walk, hop, skip, crawl or jump to her room and get her toy
Fine Motor Skills – these allow her to use the small muscles in her fingers and wrists to grab her toy
Motor Planning, Control and Coordination – this is what enables her to complete the task in the right sequence, with the right movements, without having to consciously plan each step. Read on for a list of the best toys and activities to practice fine motor skills.
So if we use it every day, why do young kids need to practice it?
Great question :-)
As with most things in life, the more we practice, the better we get. So yes, you might be able to catch a large ball when it’s being thrown slowly, but how about catching it when it’s coming at you at a faster speed? Or a smaller ball? So even though almost everything we do requires hand-eye coordination, it’s important for children to engage in activities that are geared towards strengthening those skills. With time, attention and practice, children can develop strong hand-eye coordination.
10 Fun Hand-Eye Coordination Toys and Activities
- Playing catch - this is probably the best way to develop eye-coordination and is a skill that will comes in very useful when your child starts to play sports. Try different sized balls for extra practice or even a frisbee!
- Stacking toys – stacking toys are a great way to develop many skills from hand-eye to manual dexterity to fine motor, not to mention patience, perseverance, logic and reasoning. Check out our range of stacking toys
- Jump Rope - wow, this activity targets so many of the developmental skills that children need to be successful in school. It may be tricky to get started but it'll be worth it as this gross motor activity also promotes bilateral coordination, motor planning, hand eye coordination, jumping, strength, and endurance fine motor skills, and of course, hand-eye coordination!
- Playing Simon Says – this also helps your child use other skills including patience and observation
- Puzzles are also a fun way to use hand-eye coordination while developing perception and reasoning skills
- Have a pillow fight – gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and lots of belly laughs!
- Threading & lacing – this is a great way to develop focus and concentration as well as to practice controlled movement. Your child will have to coordinate his sight and his fingers to complete the task. Check out our range of threading toys
- Things like yard work, cleaning, or tidying the house helps develop hand-eye and gross motor skills, among others.
- Balloon Toss – have fun throwing the balloon up in the air and running around hitting it to keep it from falling. It’s a fun game to tire out your children and develop some essential early learning skills including visual tracking, and motor coordination and control.
- Construction Toys – these are toys that have pieces that join, link, click and fit together and are great for building attention span, coordination and fine motor skills. Not only will your child have heaps of fun but they’ll also help build imagination, creativity, reasoning, and problem-solving skills. Check out our range of popular building and construction toys.