In this issue, we look at hand-eye coordination and the practical activities that can be used to help children develop this skill.

What is hand-eye coordination?

Very simply stated, hand-eye coordination is the visual processing of information to guide hand movements. It refers to a child’s ability to use their eyes and hands, simultaneously to complete an activity, in a controlled and smooth manner. Children who have poor hand-eye coordination, may experience difficulties in the following areas:

  • Participating in certain sporting activities such as catching and batting a ball.
  • Dressing and tying shoes.
  • Writing and drawing.
  • Completing a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Threading a needle.
  • Playing with small objects, such as stacking blocks.
  • Cutting with a pair of scissors.

There are many activities that can be used to assist children with hand-eye coordination, these includes:

Building blocks

The task of stacking blocks, carefully on top of each other, encourages careful planning, eye-hand co-ordination, strength and achieving the balance of moving hands but not the rest of the body. This activity requires awareness of where your hands are, in relation to space and the body, bilateral movement, which involves using one hand to move while the other one stabilizes.

Puzzles

This game is a fun way for children to develop and refine their fine motor skills.  When playing with puzzles, children are required to pick up, pinch and grasp, the small pegs and move them around. Children will also need to manipulate the pieces into slots, sorting and fitting them into the correct places.

Bean bags

Encourage a child to throw a bean bag, gently, into the air, and then catch it. As they get older, or more confident, encourage them to toss it higher and eventually, above their heads.

To extend this activity, encourage the child to clap in between each throw (toss, clap, catch) or get them to throw and catch with one hand. For children who really battle with throwing and catching the bean bag, put the bean bag into an orange/fruit net bag, tie it closed, and then  tie it to a low branch of a tree or a door way. The child can gently push the bean bag away and catch it again until they develop their confidence.

Pass the bean bag

This is a suitable activity for a class or group of children, to encourage eye-hand coordination and bilateral coordination. Get the children to stand in a line, one behind each other. Put a few bean bags on the ground, in front of the first child. He must bend down, pick a bean bag up and pass it up and over his head to the child behind him, that child then passes it over his head, to the child behind him until the last child gets passed the bean bag. He then collects the bean bag and passes it forwards. 

Drawing

Get children to colour a picture, using large wax crayons and encourage the child to stay within the borders of the page.

Ball sports

Encourage children to play sports that involve a bat, stick, club or racquet. Hand-eye coordination can be developed through lots of practice/repetition of this type of activity.  You can assist them, by breaking the activity down into smaller components, completing each part separately, before putting them together, if needed.

ri-dot