The visual system
Our visual system is essential for tasks such as reading, writing, motor planning, balance and hand-eye coordination. The visual system is responsible for visual acuity as well as motor control of the eyes and processing of the information it takes in through our eyes (Visual Perception). When there is a problem with one or more of these areas, this can have an impact on a child’s functioning in the school environment.
Difficulties with visual skills
There are many building blocks needed to develop visual perceptual skills and difficulties in any one of these can impact on success and learning at school. Common difficulties can include:
- Difficulties with reading and writing.
- Poor visual attention and concentration.
- Poor self-regulation including emotional regulation.
- Avoiding or refusing to participate in activities that require visual perceptual skills e.g. reading and writing tasks or PE.
- Difficulties with hand-eye coordination.
- Difficulties copying from the board.
- Difficulties with organising workspace and/or finding belongings.
Ideas to help support Visual Skills in the classroom
- Seat the student at the front of the class.
- Sit students away from visual distractions e.g. windows or doors.
- Provide only one task or activity at a time. If a student has 3 tasks to complete, consider printing these on 3 separate sheets or cutting the paper into three pieces.
- Use a multisensory approach during lessons. It may be easier for some students to visually focus during kinaesthetic (movement) lessons rather than auditory.
- Use heavy work activities to support regulation – see handout on self-regulation and attention.
- Use a privacy screen to decrease visual distractions.
- Using a guided reading strip to help reduce extra visual input when reading.
- Using a highlighted line down the left of the page to support uniform writing.
- Using a highlighted line or coloured lines to provide extra visual for letter placements e.g. sky, grass, dirt or a cat visual.
- Wear sunglasses outside if the child is sensitive to bright light.
- If copying from the board is difficult, provide the child with handouts or print it off the smart board for them.
- If you have any concerns about a child’s visual skills, it is recommended they be assessed by an Optometrist or a Developmental Optometrist.