While this back-to-school season is unlike every other back-to-school season we’ve ever experienced, one thing that remains the same: It’s important that your student is seeing their best so they can take advantage of every learning opportunity presented to them. Whether it’s in-person learning in a classroom or a virtual learning scenario, your child’s visual system is responsible for about 80% of what they learn. Making sure they’re seeing their best has never been more important.
We often think of good vision as having 20/20 eyesight. That number—20/20—is a measure of a person’s visual acuity. It is important for seeing well both up-close for reading and at a distance for classroom learning. Having 20/20 vision either naturally or with prescription lenses is important for all students. However, visual acuity isn’t the only important visual skill your child needs to maximize their ability to learn.
Academic success depends on having good visual acuity in addition to these 5 visual skills:
- Eye focusing. Eye focusing is the ability to focus and maintain clear, accurate vision as you change what you’re focusing on. For example, your student may need to look quickly back-and-forth from a book on their desk and up at the teacher writing on a chalkboard at the front of the classroom. The ability to accurately focus on both the up-close book and the far-away chalkboard is a visual skill called eye focusing. Your eye must quickly adjust to the two different visual fields at different distances. If this skill is compromised, your child may have difficulty in completing his or her schoolwork.
- Eye tracking. This is the ability to follow an object or path with the eyes. In the classroom, this means that the eyes are able to move along a sentence of words on a printed page so your child can read and comprehend the meaning of those words. It’s a critical skill in learning. Outside of the classroom, it’s the ability to watch a bird flying across the sky, or to track an object in motion such as a ball being thrown from one player to another on a sports field.
- Eye teaming. Your child has two eyes, and it’s important that those eyes act together as a team in feeding the brain visual information to process. Eye teaming is the ability to use both eyes together in a coordinated action. This teaming enables us to judge distances—critical in activities such as sports, driving and navigating the world (such as going up or down stairs). It also helps the eyes when they’re reading a line of printed text in a book or on a computer screen. The eyes must work together as a team to empower your child to learn.
- Hand-eye coordination. The “eye team” also works together to inform other parts of your body through the visual information the eyes provide to the brain. Eye-hand coordination is how we use the visual information to direct the motions our hands make. This is necessary in sports, such as trying to hit a tennis ball with a racquet or even kick a soccer ball with your foot (that could also be called “eye-foot” coordination). It’s also critical in writing and drawing, as the eyes inform the brain as to whether the hand is performing as the brain intends.
- Visual perception. This is how we recognize what images appear on a printed page or screen. In order to learn to recognize letters in the alphabet and therefore learn to read, children need good visual perception. In addition to recognizing these shapes, your child must understand what they mean when used together and remember what they are reading. The skills of recognizing different letters, such as the difference between the letters “b” and “d” for example, is important in learning to read. Visual perception also informs our reading comprehension, helping your child to imagine what’s happening in a story, such as if a cat and a dog go on a walk together, your child can “picture” the two animals. In addition, these skills work to help us remember what we’ve read and recall details of a story.
If your student’s visual skills aren’t functioning at their top ability, your student won’t be able to learn as effectively as kids with good visual skills. Your child will have to work harder and likely won’t enjoy their learning experience as much.
Students who struggle in the classroom setting are at risk of falling behind. That can be the beginning of lifelong self-esteem issues and a negative feeling about reading, writing or learning.
Do you want your child to have the best possible learning experience in school? Give them the opportunity by making sure their vision system is performing at its peak.
We can help. Call us today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. We will examine your child’s vision system for acuity, perception, teaming, focusing, tracking and coordination to ensure that they have the best possible opportunity to enjoy a great school year!