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What Are Visual-Motor Skills?
VISUAL MOTOR integration is a broad set of skills that includes many more specific ones, like motor control, eye-hand balance, and the ability to understand what you see. To put it simply, it means being able to turn a mental picture or plan into a correct physical action. We will discuss visual motor integration activities for kids later.
Visual motor skills are learned from birth and can be improved throughout life through practice and doing tasks that are right for their age. Young children use their vision and motor skills when they build with blocks, scribble, trace, write, draw, cut, and catch a ball.
Visual-motor integration is the ability to organize and carry out motor actions based on visual input. The ability to combine visual perception with motor control is useful in many contexts, including the execution of both fine and gross motor tasks. They play a vital role in your kid’s mental growth.
Using our eyes is a crucial part of developing fine motor abilities. That’s why it makes sense that your kid’s visual-motor integration would influence how well they write. Preschoolers who aren’t yet writers can put these abilities to use in coloring books and other creative pursuits.
The same is true for the relationship between visual-motor and intellectual growth. As a result, we are better able to retain knowledge and read with ease. Your child’s ability to write and copy effectively is crucial to his or her academic success.
Visual-Motor Skills are the Following:
Coordinating your eyes and hands
Eye-hand coordination means being able to use your eyes to move your hands. This can help us do everyday things like eating and getting dressed. Plus, you need it to do things like write, play sports, and read music.
Visual closure means being able to recognize words or things even when we can’t see them completely. Often, our brains can fill in the blanks even when we can’t see everything. This helps with things like reading and recognizing letters.
When you read from left to right or look for a toy in a messy room, you are both visual searching. This is how we search for things and knowledge in our environment in a planned way.
Visual spatial awareness
Being visually spatially aware means knowing how things in space fit together and how they fit in relation to you. This can make it hard to move, do physical tasks, tell the difference between left and right, and write.
Visual figure ground
Visual figure-ground is like visual scanning in that it helps us focus on a single item in a busy background. This makes it harder to do normal things like find things, read, and do schoolwork.
Being able to remember what we see is called visual memory. For learning new things, this is important. Young kids use their visual memories to learn to read, write, and recognize letters and numbers.
Visual discrimination means being able to tell the difference between things that are alike and things that are different. Sorting or matching things based on their size, form, color, or texture is an example of this.
Why Are Visual Motor Skills Important?
Visual-motor integration is very important for tasks that require coordination. If the information seen is not understood properly, the muscles will receive the wrong signals, leading to the wrong motor responses. Kids who have trouble integrating their visual and motor skills may have issues with sports, eye-hand coordination, eye-foot coordination, bilateral coordination (using both sides of the body together), body awareness, daily tasks like putting food on a fork, reading, drawing, writing, lining up math problems, geometry, speed at which they can complete motor tasks, and more.
Research and Facts on Visual Motor Skills
Other research indicates that preschool children’s visual-motor integration and object manipulation skills are related to executive function skills and social behaviors (MacDonald et. al., 2016)
For older children, performance on a visual analysis and visual motor integration task were significantly related to academic performance in 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds (Taylor, 1999).
Visual motor skills play an important role in handwriting. Visual-motor integration skills have been shown to be related to the ability to copy letters legibly (Daly et. al, 2003).
Kids Having Problems with Integrating the Visual and Motor
Kids who have trouble integrating their visual and movement skills may find it hard to do everyday things and have issues with both their fine and gross motor skills. Because of this, their typing, sports skills, and grades may all get worse.
If you have a young child, keep in mind that every child grows and learns at their own pace. It’s possible that they just don’t have the right visual-motor skills yet. Still, you can look for some signs that something is wrong.
Kids who have trouble with their visual-motor skills may have trouble with:
- Awareness of left and right
- Reading and seeing words
- Recognizing letters and numbers
- Sorting and matching things
- Change of letters
- Coordination of the eyes and hands
- Sporting events
How to Improve Visual-Motor Skills
If your child has trouble combining what they see with what they do, try these things:
- Practice it over and over again!
- Make sure that worksheets are clean, simple, and easy to read.
- Try to hide all the issues besides the one being worked on to see if that helps.
Draw attention to or shade important words and phrases.
- use a multisensory approach, which means doing things that take more than just seeing, like making a video presentation instead of writing an assignment by hand.
- Let a child answer out loud instead of writing it down.
- Cut down on the amount of board information that needs to be copied.
- Ask that copies of your child’s class notes be given to them.
- Pay attention to the quality of the work instead of how much you have done.
An occupational therapist might be able to help your child if they are having trouble with things at school or at home. Early help, like physical therapy, can often help young children improve their visual-motor skills.
This is something that kids who work with an occupational trainer to improve their handwriting or fine motor skills will probably already be doing. A test called a VMI may be used by your child’s physical therapist to keep track of his or her visual-motor skills. This will help them figure out what school skills your kid needs to improve.
Play is a common part of pediatric physical therapy because it helps kids learn new skills and become more independent. To help their visual-motor growth, an occupational therapist will work on both small and large motor skills. This might be a great way to help your kid understand better.
Beth Pfeiffer, Beverly Moskowitz, Andrew Paoletti, Eugene Brusilovskiy, Sheryl Eckberg Zylstra, Tammy Murray; Developmental Test of Visual–Motor Integration (VMI): An Effective Outcome Measure for Handwriting Interventions for Kindergarten, First-Grade, and Second-Grade Students?. Am J Occup Ther July/August 2015, Vol. 69(4), 6904350010p1–6904350010p7. doi: https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.015826
Coallier, M., Rouleau, N., Bara, F., & Morin, M. (2014). Visual-Motor Skills Performance on the Beery-VMI: A Study of Canadian Kindergarten Children. The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 2(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.15453/2168-6408.1074
Dankert, H. L., Davies, P. L., & Gavin, W. J. (2003). Occupational therapy effects on visual-motor skills in preschool children. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 57, 542–549.
Barnhardt, C., Borsting, E., Deland, P., Pham, N., & Vu, T. (2005). Relationship between visual-motor integration and spatial organization of written language and math. Optometry and Vision Science, 82(2), 138-143.
Brock, L. L., Kim, H., & Grissmer, D. W. (2018). Longitudinal Associations Among Executive Function, Visuomotor Integration, and Achievement in a High‐Risk Sample. Mind, Brain, and Education, 12(1), 23-27.