How To Improve Your Child's Hand Eye Coordination
Article written by Josie Rothwell
Hand eye coordination is the body’s ability to process the information it receives through the eyes to direct the hands to complete a task. In a study entitled ‘Maturation in Hand-eye Coordination in Typically Developing Children and Adolescents’, researchers suggest that children don’t reach efficient hand-eye coordination until they grow into adolescence. Children take longer to develop precision grasping and placement. This isn’t really a problem, as hand-eye coordination will naturally develop as a child grows. However, there are a few things you can do to help your children strengthen the skill from an early age. Here are a few tips to follow:
Encourage your child to play
Children who spend more time performing physical activities often have better academic performance than those who are sedentary. Research from the University of Bari in Italy highlights how physical exercise can improve mental acuity, skills, and strategies. This underscores how play can be a form of cognitive training that increases the quality of life. Children who practice hand eye coordination while playing become more efficient with reaction time tasks and more flexible with attention-orientation tasks.
In early childhood, it’s important to note that most learning is repetitive. The more you practice an activity, the easier it will become. For babies, you can help train their hand-eye coordination by placing interesting objects so they can learn to reach and grab. Toddlers may benefit more from other games, such as stringing beads, coloring activities, hopscotch, juggling, or playing with a ball.
Work with a pediatric healthcare professional
Healthcare professionals who work with children would know how to help them develop hand-eye coordination through different exercises. This collaboration is particularly beneficial for children who may have atypical development, but it's just as important for those that don't. However, it’s not easy to consult with pediatric specialists, as there is a shortage in the US. According to a study featured in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, many nurse practitioners (NPs) can step in and provide care as needed.
Based on their estimates, NPs and physician assistants can minimize shortages in primary care, medical subspecialties, and even surgical subspecialties. And this number can further grow with additional online training at a higher education level. Maryville University’s online master’s in nursing program showcases how students can specialize in pediatrics, so they can better work with children. These courses focus on pediatric health promotion, assessment, and diagnosis, so consulting with a professional can ensure your child is in the best shape for coordination training. They can even address issues that impact hand-eye coordination, like poor eyesight.
Get your child into sports
Newborns move from reflexive movements to more purposeful actions as they grow older. Toddlers and young children develop at different rates due to factors like exposure to other children, so letting them get into sports can help increase hand-eye coordination. Between the ages of six and nine, children are just starting to develop proprioception, which helps them sense where their body is in relation to space and work with what they sense visually.
This makes it the perfect age for them to try sports like baseball or tennis. If they aren’t comfortable with team sports yet, you can also teach them how to play catch — either by tossing a ball in the air and catching it or by playing with a partner
Train your children in HECOstix drills
HECOstix are tools designed to generate sensory stimuli that target the cerebellum and the motor cortex. When combined with key HECOstix drills, you can help your child enhance their coordination. Unlike a typical ball, the colored grips of the HECOstix add a new challenge for speed and agility, testing hand eye coordination in a new way.
In a typical drill, you can throw the HECOstix in a certain way. Depending on how you throw it, the spin rate and rotational axis will change. When you call out a command, your child would have to interpret the axis, spin rate, and grip color to execute the command. This helps your child train their hand-eye coordination, so they’re also less likely to struggle with skills such as drawing and writing.
Article written by Josie Rothwell