Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Skill Focus: Visual Tracking

What It Is: Visual tracking is the ability to fixate on an object and follow the object as it continuously moves through a space. To acomplish this our eyes must follow the object with accuracy and have coordinated movements whether the object moves left to right, top to bottom, or in circles.

Why It’s Important: Visual Tracking is a visual behavior that is critical to reading success. The mechanics of reading demand that we be able to shift our eyes left to right from word to word as well as move our eyes from the top of the page to the bottom of the page.

Visual system development and maturation occurs after birth and is largely complete by 5 years of age. The visual experiences infants and children encounter after birth are essential to develop normal vision. This is an important concept for parents to understand. We are not just supporting development or skill building here. We are responsible for giving infants the optimal experiences necessary to develop normal vision at the appropriate stages in their development.

At birth infants can track an object in a 180 degree arc horizontally with their eyes, but they must move their heads to accomplish this. As infants approach 1 month of age, they develop the ability to track objects horizontally, without moving their heads however, their eyes are not able to move beyond their nose. They will develop the ability to track an object beyond the nose (in a 180 degree arc) without moving the head when they are closer to 6 months of age. At 2 to 3 months of age an infant develops the ability to track objects vertically and in circular motion.

Toys That Develop The Skill:

GO-GO CATEPILLAR: Great for horizontal tracking watch her go from left to right or right to left, quickly or slowly. (Item# 1341 $15.00)

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CASTLE MARBLEWORKS: Combines horizontal and vertical tracking. The balls travel from left to right, top to bottom, right to left, top to bottom until the balls exit the door at the bottom of the castle. (Item# 1756 $38.50)

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GIANT PEGBOARD: is the ultimate tracking toy. Building tall stacks in predictable patterns such as blue/yellow/blue/yellow provides practice with top/bottom visual tracking. After placing pegs randomly on the board, start at the upper left hand corner, point to the individual pegs (left to right). You and your child can “read the board” as if you were reading a book. For example, star, triangle, square, square, circle at the end of the first horizontal row of pegs, drop down to the second horizontal row of pegs and begin with the peg that is furthest to the left, continue until you and your “reading partner” have completed all five horizontal rows of pegs. This activity combines left to right tracking with top to bottom tracking. (Item#1562 $18.50)

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Cara Retz
Educational Leader, Discovery Toys

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