Hand-eye coordination, also known as eye-hand coordination, is an important perceptual-motor skill children develop during the early years.
Find out what it is, why it is important to develop and how you can help your children build their coordination with simple games and activities.
What is Hand-Eye Coordination?
Sometimes these tasks need to be done with speed and accuracy, such as when catching a ball.
Some Examples of Hand-Eye Coordination
Here are some examples of when hand-eye coordination is needed to perform a task:
- A baby grasping an object
- Batting the ball in a game of cricket
- Tying your shoelaces
- Writing a sentence
- Brushing your hair
- Making a cup of tea
Why is Hand-Eye Coordination Important?
Hand-eye coordination is an important skill for functioning in your daily life. A simple task such as making a cup of tea would be difficult if you were not able to aim and pour boiling water.
Not only do we need hand-eye coordination to perform everyday tasks, it is also important for playing sports and learning to read and write at school.
Reading and writing require well-developed visual tracking skills.
Your brain needs to track the position of the pencil and control the hand and finger movements. When reading, your brain is visually tracking as you move from left to right and down to the next line. [source]
How Can You Improve Your Child’s Coordination?
The development of hand-eye coordination is a process that occurs naturally while children are playing. Learning should always be fun.
You can encourage your children by allowing them large blocks of time to play freely every day, as well as by engaging your child in specific outdoor games and activities that work this skill.
It’s important that these skills are developed at an early age since most of this learning takes place by the age of 4. Therefore, early stimulation is crucial.
19 Hand-Eye Coordination Games and Activities
These games and activities are simple and quick and exercise the brain’s ability to coordinate the hands and eyes simultaneously.
Do one activity a day for 5 minutes and you will make a huge impact on your child’s motor development, which will later help him learn to read and write.
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1. Throwing and Catching a Ball
Ball activities are probably the best way to develop a child’s eye-hand coordination.
You should practise catching and throwing balls often as this is also a skill that will be needed when your child begins playing sport. Alternate throwing with bouncing a ball to each other.
Use different sized balls such as tennis balls, basket balls, beach balls, etc. Throwing and catching smaller balls requires more advanced skills.
2. Having a Pillow Fight
This is one the kids will love! Throw pillows at each other and work the eyes, hands and laughs at the same time.
3. Threading and Lacing
Threading and lacing are great for developing concentration as well as practising controlled movements. Your child has to coordinate his eyes and fingers carefully in order to do this task.
Make your own lacing cards by using cardboard shapes and punching holes into them or buy a set of lacing cards.
Thread beads onto string or use macaroni and make a necklace!
Threading and lacing are two of the best activities you can do for building fine motor skills.
4. Working in the Garden
All you need is a basic gardening set like this one and you’re set to go.
Purchase a set of bowling pins or make your own by filling large plastic bottles with some water and painting them in various colours. Then, place them in a row and take turns rolling a ball to knock them over.
As your child gets more skilled, make small skittles with small bottles and knock them over with a smaller ball.
Puzzles are one of the best activities for your child. They develop skills such as fine motor, shape recognition (pre-mathematical), problem-solving, logic, attention and of course, hand-eye coordination.
These 12-piece Melissa and Doug wooden puzzles are my favourite as they are sturdy to handle and last forever. They come in an awesome wooden box. You may prefer to get 24-piece puzzles for older preschoolers.
Read about why puzzles are crucial for development.
7. Balloon Toss
Blow up a small or large balloon and see how long your child can keep it in the air by hitting it.
This balloon game is excellent for developing coordination as it requires moving and thinking fast to prevent the balloon from dropping, and working the eyes and hands simultaneously.
8. Sandpit Toys
Playing in the sandpit by filling containers with sand and building sand structures can provide much practice for developing coordination.
Offer your child buckets and containers of different sizes, as well as utensils such as shovels and rakes. Here is a great kit for sandplay.
9. Cutting and Sticking
Give your child different types of paper – such as newspaper, tissue paper, cardboard, etc. – and let him cut it into shapes or strips.
Learning to cut with scissors is a great way to build hand-eye coordination at a young age.
Provide glue such as liquid wood glue, craft glue, a glue stick or even a mixture of flour and water with some paintbrushes to spread the glue.
10. Skipping Rope
Skipping is a challenging skill that many children struggle to do, yet is so good for a child’s coordination.
Not only do children have to coordinate both sides of their body and alternate legs, but they also need to move the skipping rope while making sure to watch that they jump through the rope.
11. Bean Bag Toss
Bean bags are a must-have in every household. Playing with bean bags develops gross and fine motor skills. You can build your child’s hand-eye coordination in various ways:
- Toss them into a washing basket
- Throw them into a low hula hoop
- Catch them with one hand (from 5 years of age)
- Throw them in the air and catch them (from 6 years of age)
- Play a bean bag toss game
Your children should be spending time drawing every day. This basic activity builds how the eyes and fingers work together to achieve a task.
Provide different utensils and mediums – such as paper, cardboard, a whiteboard, pencils, wax crayons, paint, etc.
13. Blackboard and Chalk
A large chalkboard gives your child the opportunity to draw while working their large muscles. He also has to cross his arms over to reach the left and right of the board, which develops his ability to cross the midline.
Invest in a good quality standing chalkboard that your child will use for years. This is the exact one my daughter has. It’s good quality and she will get years of use from it.
14. Dribbling a Ball Around Cones
Place plastic cones in a shape such as a straight line or circle and dribble a ball in between them using a cricket or baseball bat.
Improvise by using plastic bottles filled with water as cones or try this set of cones that comes with bean bags and rings.
15. Finger Painting
This messy activity provides a sensory experience as well as an opportunity to build eye-hand coordination.
For even more fun, try using bath finger paint. Your children will love learning while getting their hands in the paint.
16. Building with Blocks or Lego
Building toys, such as wooden blocks or Lego, are great for building attention span, fine motor skills and coordination.
Having a set of wooden blocks is an essential educational toy for every child and one that will provide hours of learning as children build creativity, imagination, problem-solving skills, and much more.
Instead of buying small, flimsy blocks, invest in a proper set of good quality wooden blocks. These are the kind I always had in my classroom.
Here are some more examples of great fine motor skills toys that you probably already have at home.
17. Construction Toys
As an alternative to blocks and Lego, offer your child other construction toys that have pieces that link, join or click and fit into each other.
Here is an example of a set, but if you have to choose, first invest in wooden blocks like the set I linked to above.
18. Egg and Spoon Race
The egg and spoon race is one of my favourites. This is such a simple game to play with your child and you’ll be laughing and giggling together as she practises this important skill.
It’s a great balancing activity for young kids.
Don’t forget to boil the egg first!
19. Swing Ball
Hitting a ball on a rope with a bat is one of the best activities for developing hand-eye coordination. You can build one at home with a wooden pole and a rope or buy a set on Amazon.
Eye-Hand Coordination Problems
Sometimes, children have problems with poor coordination – related to vision or motor control.
Look out for the following signs:
- Holding things too close to their eyes
- Avoiding activities
If you suspect your child has difficulties with hand-eye coordination, speak to a paediatrician, ophthalmologist or optometrist.
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