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Building Hand-Eye Coordination
The term “hand-eye coordination” describes the ability of your body’s visual system to process information received through the eyes and use it to direct the movements of the hands. This skill is demonstrated in sports such as tennis, baseball and basketball. Even simple daily tasks require the brain, eyes and limbs to work together. Hand-eye coordination is a neurological process that should be encouraged from an early age. It works alongside our fine-motor skills and our gross-motor skills. Without good hand-eye coordination, we would not be able to carry out everyday tasks.
The Development of Hand-Eye Coordination
Hand-eye coordination will build as children grow. A baby’s hand movements are reflexive in nature, but as they grow, their movements will become more purposeful. At five-months-old, it's possible that they will be reaching for objects and moving toys from one hand to the other which may develop into a pincer grip towards the end of their first year. Stacking building blocks, holding writing utensils, turning pages in books and drawing circles might be a later development during their first few years. Once children start preschool it's likely that they will have developed spacial awareness that coordinates with their hand-eye abilities to position small objects and better control eating utensils. Hand-eye coordination will continue to develop with practice, and by school age their fine motor skills will have matured enough to master most basic hand-eye coordination tasks.
Encouraging Hand-Eye Coordination
There are different ways to encourage development of hand-eye coordination in children. Like any other skill, the more time spent doing activities that involve hand-eye coordination, the easier the skill will become. For infants, play is an essential part of developing hand-eye coordination.
These are some examples you can try with infants:
• Placing objects of interest within reach
• Shaking a rattle or plastic keys
• Playing with toys that make noise
Once they reach toddler age, some of these activities can be tried:
• Throwing and catching a ball
• Colouring in activities
• Connect-the-dot activities
For children who are five years and older, the following activities can be recommended:
• Balancing on a beam
• Playing handball
The key to improving hand-eye coordination appears to be in exercises that focus not on an object or destination, but rather, on the space in between. A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience supports a theory that gaze control is a major contributing factor in developing good hand-eye coordination. In the study, researchers found that gaze defines key grasping or fingertip positions between the hand and the object and then directs the hand to these positions when moving the object. Some activities to improve hand-eye coordination include:
Bouncing a Ball on a Racket - Take a tennis ball, shuttlecock or ping pong ball and have them bounce it as many times as they can without dropping or missing it. Repeat it whilst adapting the height of the bounce each time.
Jigsaw Puzzles - Jigsaw puzzles can sharpen visual perception and fine motor skills and can be an effective tool in the development of your child. In addition, jigsaw puzzles can help children develop their memory, shape recognition and goal setting.
Building Hand-Eye Coordination in Playgrounds
A playground is a great space for children to develop hand-eye coordination. A climbing net, for example, is perfect for developing a child’s hand-eye coordination as well as offering many other physical and mental benefits. These include building strength and balance, climbing ability, spatial awareness, and problem-solving skills. By incorporating climbing nets alongside other hand-eye coordination activities such as ball tossing, children can become much more confident and capable in sports, handwriting and other everyday activities.
One of the best ways to develop children’s skills is to incorporate them into play-based learning. If children are having fun, not only will they enjoy the initial activity, they’ll be motivated to continue doing it on their own. As well as a climbing net, other pieces of playground equipment can aid in building strength and motor skills. Monkey bars, ropes and balancing poles all provide plenty of hand-eye coordination activities for kids and teenagers. Additionally, the strength and coordination this provides will mean more advanced activities like sport will become easier and more accessible, allowing children to have fun while learning and staying healthy. Consisting of ladders, frames, climbing nets, stairs, slides and tunnels, our Multi-Play Modules are perfect for developing these skills. A selection of tower activities can be added to an existing tower system or can be combined to create a multi-play tower unit in a playground or play space.
At Fahr, we also offer a wide range of sensory products to suit a variety of settings. These include our Memory and Reactions games and Music ranges, which are available as inserts as well as complete play panels and therefore can be incorporated into new and old schemes with ease. Please visit our website to view our product catalogue, or contact our sales team for more information.
Without good hand-eye coordination, we would not be able to carry out everyday tasks...
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