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Hand-eye Coordination And Visual Discrimination Key To Literacy
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your child's early literacy development is simply to let them play. Turn off the TV and anything battery operated then let your child pick up their toys, build blocks or duplos, or manipulate puzzles or game pieces. Not only are you giving your child the gift of childhood, something we so often fail to do in today's hectice, achievement-oriented world, but you are actually helping them build skills that are key to learning to read and write.
Hand-eye coordination is a necessary skill for written language and the best way to help your child develop this skill is to let them play with toys and activities that involve looking at, using, and discriminating a number of elements. Puzzles are obviously a great activity for this but so are manipulative toys such as blocks, duplos, and magnetix.
My son just spent over an hour this evening playing dominos with his father -- OK they weren't so much playing as setting up complex pattterns and then knocking them down -- but I didn't tell them they were engaged in a preliteracy activity. They were just having fun together.
Studies have shown that spending time on hand-eye coordination activities improves children's ability to learn to read and lessens the difficulty they face during the process. In fact engaging in a variety of craft activities, which most kids love, can be very beneficial so add play dough, stickers, and glue sticks to your list of educational supplies.
Research shows that early practice of hand-eye coordination activities reduces the risk for reading difficulties.
ACTIVITIES TO ENCOURAGE
Puzzles help develop hand-eye coordination because learning to control hands and fingers according to information received from sight is a coordination skill that aids children in early attempts at reading and writing. Determining out which piece goes where, working to fit pieces into place by making adjustments, and seeing a sequence develop in an organized pattern can be a great learning experience as well as very satisfying for children.
Puzzles, matching games, and the like are also important to help children learn visual discrimination. Visual discrimination is the ability of the brain to quickly tell the difference among visually similar letters, like "p," "b," and "q" or between words such as "was" and "saw." Students with difficulty making these distinctions often struggle with learning to read, write, and spell. Playing games, engaging in activities, or with toys that help children discriminate among similar objects can be fun for the child and help them master an important preliteracy skill. My son loves to help his father sort change before rolling it to be deposited at the bank. Sure we could use an electronic sorter but our son loves to engage in the activity and it is a valuable learning experience for him.
Visual discrimination can often be learned with your child's existing toys. Matchbox cars, dolls, and action figures all offer the opportunity for your child to learn visual discrimination.
Encourage children to work their wrist and finger muscles as well as work on their coordination and small-motor skills to help prepare them for the handwriting practice in their future. Activities to help with these goals include legos and other building sets, playdough, puzzles, pegboards, beads and other table toys. These fun, natural activities help children improve their cognitive and fine motor skills without frustration or boredom.
My son engages in many activities every day that encourage hand-eye coordination and visual discrimination. I don't suggest the activities to him. I make the toys and manipulatives available to him and he chooses them on his own. The activities vary he may go an entire week building and rebuilding his wooden train set every day and then the next week his magnetix set dominates his play time. Some days he plays with both together and pulls in his duplos and wooden blocks for added fun. It doesn't matter to me which activity he chooses because I know he is having fun, challenging his imagination,and learning.
BONUS : Handling Conflict About Rules Enforcement At Home
Some parents may worry that setting strict rules may distance them from their children. But this simply isn't the case. Though they may gripe and complain and get upset when you become the enforcer, they realize deep down that this shows you care. These parameters you set forth and enforce make your child feel loved, safe, and secure.
It's never easy developing and introducing rules. Parents may tend to avoid setting rules because they fear confrontation and unpleasantness. But the uncomfortable stuff isn't necessarily a reflection on your relationship with your child, it's just the nature of adolescence - breaking rules and pushing limits is a part of growing up. We tend to want to be our child's friend sometimes, and when we're laying down the law that just isn't possible. Our primary role is to protect, nurture and provide for our children.
When kids break rules, parents often overreact with harsh, disproportionate and unenforceable punishment, which undermines the effectiveness of setting rules. Instead, when you first tell your child about a new rule, discuss the consequences of breaking that rule - what the punishment will be and how it will be carried out. Consequences must go hand in hand with limits so that your child knows what the cost of breaking the rules will be. The punishments you set should be reasonable and related to the violation. For example, if you catch your son and his friends smoking, you might "ground" him by restricting his social activities for two weeks.
Punishments should only involve penalties you discussed before the rule was broken. Also, never issue empty threats. It's understandable that you'll be angry when house rules are broken, and sharing your feelings of anger, disappointment, or sadness can have a powerfully motivating effect on your child. Since we're all more inclined to say things we don't mean when we're upset, it's sometimes best to give ourselves a time-out period to cool off before we say something we don't mean.
Make the ground rules crystal clear to your child. It's imperative that you are consistent and follow through with a defined disciplinary action after each infraction, and that your child understands the reasons why.