Improve your kids Eye Hand Coordination by learning the signs that indicate your kiddo is struggling, and games you can start playing today!
Eye hand coordination, also known as hand eye coordination, is a foundational skill to everyday tasks…..although I feel like it is most often talked about in reference to sports!
But every time you pick up an item, place an object, fill a cup, and much more, you are using your eye hand coordination skills!
Before we can learn how to Improve Eye Hand Coordination, let’s uncover some important aspects first.
What is Eye Hand Coordination?
Eye hand coordination is the ability to process what you are seeing and moving your hand in accordance to that information, at the same time, so that you can reach/grasp/hit an object successfully.
It’s actually quite a complex skill!
When does Eye Hand Coordination Develop in Kids?
Eye hand coordination begins to develop around 4 months of age. One of the first movements in developing this skill is when a baby bats at a hanging object.
After mastering batting at an object, babies will then start to reach for toys. And eventually not only reach but grab the toy too.
After they have mastered reaching and holding a toy, babies begin container play and then continue to master and finesse the skill as they get older.
These actions begin laying the groundwork for developing eye hand coordination.
What do Eye Hand Coordination Difficulties Look like?
When looking at a kiddo who is struggling with eye hand coordination tasks, there are several areas to consider to determine the underlying issue.
Eye Hand Coordination skills can be impacted by:
- Vision Impairment
- Trouble with control of movement (Ataxia)
- Hypertonia (Increased muscle tone which limits a muscle’s ability to stretch)
- Poor Proprioception (knowing where a body part is in space)
- Decreased finger dexterity
- Decreased core strength (affects postural control and head placement. Get Core Strengthening Activities Here)
Knowing the difference between when your kiddo is in the process of learning a new skill and when they are having trouble with a skill is really hard.
First, consider their age and know what they should be able to do. But always know that you can bring any concerns to your pediatrician.
Key Points that show Eye Hand Coordination Difficulties:
- Under shoots – reaches for an object but misses it by not going far enough
- Over shoots – reaches for an object but misses it by reaching past it
- Easily becomes frustrated with tasks that require eye hand coordination
- Refuses to participate in tasks that use this skill
- Changes the play to avoid completing eye hand coordination movements
- Becomes overly silly
- Has trouble writing letters/numbers on writing lines
- Struggles with coloring or drawing within the lines
Watch your kiddo over a time of period to make sure that they are not having an “off day”. If they consistently struggle with a skill, then they may benefit from an Occupational Therapy evaluation.
Games to Improve Eye Hand Coordination Skills in Kids
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# 1. Bat at a Hanging Ball or Balloon
Chasing after a hit ball gets tiring. Instead, connect it to a string or put it inside a pair of tights and then connect it to a tree branch or the ceiling.
Practice hitting the ball with a bat.
Or hold a stick horizontal to the ground with 2 hands. Wrap colored tape around the stick and tap a specific color to the ball. Try doing this with a color pattern. The more colors in the pattern the harder it is!
Using a ball too hard? Switch to a balloon!
# 2. Peg Board
A peg board is something that you can always find in my OT bag!
Have your kiddo place the pegs in rows by colors, make a pattern, and putting pegs in ascending or descending numbers so that one column has 5 pegs, the next has 4, and so on.
More great activities are to build one gigantic tower, make letters, numbers or shapes using the pegs!
Also don’t forget to switch up the position of the board! It can be taped or held to a wall, upside down under a table, in the air, or on the floor.
# 3. Fill a container with water
Kids love to play with water! give your kiddo different size containers and fill them up with water.
You can simply put the sink on a trickle or small stream so that they have to move and hold the container in the right spot and still!
Have an older kiddo? Have them poor water from a small pitcher or use a pipette to fill the container.
# 4. Play Connect 4
Placing the chips into the slot is a great way to work on eye hand coordination while playing a game.
Don’t have the game? Place coins into a bank or slotted lid.
#5. String Beads
String beads onto a pipe cleaner, skewer, or string.
Don’t have beads? Cut a straw into small pieces and string them instead.
# 6. Place toothpicks into an empty spice container
Designate an old spice container and fill it with toothpicks. When ready, dump the toothpicks out, and replace the lid with the small holes.
Then have your kiddo put the toothpicks back into the container by going through the holes.
Don’t have a spice container? Then try having your kiddo put toothpicks in a straw!This is also a great activity to keep in your purse for waiting at restaurants!
# 7. Hammer in Golf Tees
Hammer golf tees into the ground, a tree, stump or pieces of styrofoam. My kids like to use crab mallets as their “hammer”.
Make it harder by making a letter or shape out of the tees. You can also wrap a piece of string around the tees to make a shape or part of an obstacle course.
This is also a great hand strengthening activity!
# 8. Geo Board
Copy a design, or make your own, by stretching rubber bands around pegs.
Need a GeoBoard? Or make your own using a piece of wood and nails.
# 9. Sticker Cover Eye Hand Coordination Activity
Write letters, numbers, shapes, or small colored dots haphazardly around a piece of paper.
Cover an item using a sticker to make it “disappear”
# 10. Bounce and catch a ball
Ball skills are a fun way to work on eye hand coordination.
Try bouncing a ball and then catching it with one hand or two hands.
Too hard? Switch to a balloon. Throw it up in the air and try to catch it. Or tap it between two players to keep it in the air! Don’t let the balloon fall to the floor.
Pick a game and have your kiddo try it out! Have fun with it!
If the activity is too hard try to change it up so that your kiddo can do it. Once they learn they can, then try the original way again.
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- How to Avoid Sensory Overload in Children During the Holidays
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Kelly is a licensed Occupational Therapist with 15 years of experience servicing school-aged children and Early Intervention. She is the founder of OT Perspective and a mom to 4 children. To learn more about her, check out her About Me page, here.