Improving Your Child's Hand-Eye Coordination

Developing good coordination is a hugely important skill. From getting dressed in the morning—to succeeding at school—to using a telephone or computer, it's a skill your child will draw on throughout the day, every single day for the rest of his or her life.

Think about it: the ability to use hands and eyes together to perform a task requires kids to synchronize vision, touch, movement, and cognition. It's quite a complex feat!

Obviously, kids develop at their own pace. However, most hand skills are learned, which means skills will improve with repetition. And because nearly all everyday activities—from eating breakfast to doing homework—involve fine motor skills, coordination develops on its own over time.

Still, all children can benefit from additional coordination-boosting activities, especially those who lag behind. Not surprisingly, kids with poor coordination often avoid activities that require manual dexterity, preferring, say, to play on a swing set rather than string beads into a necklace. The good news is, with so many choices, parents can find coordination-building activities that will appeal to every child.

The easiest approach is to expose kids to as many different types of activities as possible. You can give your child's coordination a boost by introducing playthings that require activities like grasping, aiming, sorting, and even digging. Here are some of favorite play activities that offer big coordination-enhancing benefits:

Infant Play Gyms and Activity Toys - This is where it all begins! Babies' first mobiles and activity gyms encourage infants to first visually focus on and track objects, then eventually reach out to touch and grasp them.

Arts and Crafts - Drawing, painting, scissor cutting, and craft projects all help build dexterity as well as creativity. From modeling clay to lacing boards, the more different tools and materials you introduce to your child, the more coordination-building opportunities you give him.

Puzzles - Whether puzzles are made of wood, foam, cardboard, the act of fitting pieces together is very beneficial for hand-eye coordination, as well as spatial recognition and cognitive skills.

Blocks and Building Sets - Stack, nest, interlock. Putting pieces together…to create three dimensional structures is a great way to build fine motor skills, one kids rarely guess is "good" for them.

Play Sets - Again, while we don't always think of play sets as coordination builders, the acts of picking up and manipulating small pieces is terrific for dexterity.

Musical Instruments - Whether tickling the ivories or banging on a drum, making music gets little fingers and hands in motion. And once kids learn to read music, the benefits accelerate further.

Games - Board games and card games are great for coordination as well as problem solving and social skills.

And of course, many timeless family activities—playing "patty-cake" with your baby, baking cookies with your child—build coordination as well as strong family bonds.

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