Visible…that’s the key word in the discussion about collateral damage and handwriting skills.
The impending danger – the underlying cause that can result in handwriting struggles – will sometimes only show itself when a child begins to USE his vision-related skills in kindergarten.
The signs may be there prior to kindergarten and first grade; but they are subtle and lurk behind our reluctance to push children past their developmental skill level.
If a preschooler is having some difficulties with pre-handwriting skills, it is natural and correct for us to consider that he may be developing at his own rate and that he will catch up with experience.
Only when he fails to do that do we begin to suspect that there may be another cause for his struggles.
By the time we sidle up to the problem, our little kindergarten student is struggling with reading, writing, and arithmetic expectations.
How do we prevent our children from collateral damage resulting from poor vision skills? Prevention is best achieved by “getting smart” on vision wellness strategies and the outward symptoms of visual skill impairments. Let’s
review those here.
- Vision Assessments
1. Over 60% of what a child learns, from the day he is born, is learned through his vision. Fifty percent of what he needs to know will be obtained in his first year of life.
2. The most critical stages of vision development occur during that first year. Hence, undetected vision problems can lead to permanent vision impairment.
between the ages of 6-12 months,
at the age of 3,
as they enter kindergarten, and
every year thereafter, unless otherwise specified by their developmental optometrist.
5. InfantSEE provides free vision assessments for babies between the ages of 6-12 months, regardless of their access to insurance benefits or their parents’ financial status.
1. Visual Red Flags* are behaviors that may indicate possible difficulties in visual functions.
2. They can be observed during a child’s every day activities, such as dressing, playground exploration, and fine-motor arts and crafts.
3. Some symptoms are quite visible, such as stumbling or walking into walls, awkward movements with running and climbing, difficulty with movement sequences (Simon Says), or rubbing the eyes or squinting.
4. Other symptoms include inappropriate social behaviors such as grabbing at items presented to him, giving the appearance of staring at or ignoring someone speaking to him, too much/too little pressure on his pencil.
5. Eyes that drift in or out, consistently or inconsistently, can indicate a visual impairment and should be brought to the attention of a pediatrician and developmental optometrist.
In order for a child to master the skills necessary for kindergarten readiness…and ultimately reading, handwriting, and math success…he needs to be able to see clearly.
Seeing clearly means that his eyes are working together to form one image, an accurate perception of himself and his world, for an adequate length of time.
He needs to be able to manipulate letters and numbers on a page, locate and identify errors, understand the boundaries of his working space, and write for comprehension – both his and his reader’s.
He must be able to “learn to read and read to learn.”
These skills are built upon strong and solid vision skills. And vision skills are built from birth.
As always, thanks for reading! “See” you next time! Katherine *A Vision Red Flags Checklist can be obtained on Handwriting With Katherine’s Resources Page. The Handwriting is Fun! Blog is published by and is the property of Handwriting With Katherine.
Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills. In her current book, Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation: A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists, she shares a comprehensive guide and consistent tool for addressing handwriting development needs. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine.
Pictures above that are the property of the author must provide a link back to this article or her website.
All other pictures should provide a link back to their source.
Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.