Hand-eye coordination is a perceptual-motor skill that is highly important for young children to develop during their early years. It is the skill of coordinated control and movement of the eyes, hands, and legs that help a child in activities like reaching, grasping, or catching.
It is important for your children to develop eye-hand coordination as it is often referred to, for this skill will help them to write, pour, throw, catch, lace, and do so much more. This is needed for the development of both fine motor and gross motor skills.
In this detailed guide, we will provide you with information on what exactly is hand-eye coordination, why it is important for kids to develop this fine motor skill, and how you would know that your children need help in this area. We will also give you a list of hand-eye coordination activities and games (both indoor and outdoor) using which you can enhance and improve this important fine and gross motor skill in your child.
What is Hand-Eye Coordination?
In simple terms, the motor skills of hands and eyes work together in a coordinated manner to perform a task and this is known as hand-eye coordination or eye-hand coordination.
It is important for a young child to have and develop this set of skills for they will need this ability to carry out movements in a controlled manner using their hands, while at the same time being guided by their eyes or sight.
Sometimes, these movements need to be performed with accuracy and speed such as at the time of throwing or catching a ball. During these activities, the proprioception system of the legs and hands needs to coordinate with the visual system of the child to carry out these activities without any difficulties.
Usually, the eye-hand coordination system gets developed within a child between 4 and 14 months, when they start moving their legs and using their hands to explore the world around them. In accordance with visual input and fine motor skills, the baby finally begins to grip, grasp, and hold objects as they continue to fine tune this skill set while growing up.
Why is it Important to Strengthen Hand-Eye Coordination in Your Child?
Hand-eye coordination is an elementary skill that young children need to develop from an early age in order to function, move, and perform activities in their daily life.
For example, a task as simple as pouring water from a bottle to cup could be very difficult to execute if the eye-hand coordination of your child is not established. Just like performing this simple task, reading, writing, or even learning to read could be a lot of trouble for younger kids, if they lack in this department of their development.
Just like reading and writing, playing a sport requires visual tracking skills along with well-developed gross motor skills. Be it controlling the movement of a pencil in your hand or be it catching a ball that is thrown at you – coordinated movements between hands, fingers, legs, and eyes are crucial for each and every function.
A task as simple as reading even requires our brain’s visual tracking ability as we move from one line to the other. This tells us clearly how important it is for our child to develop hand-eye coordination in order to lead a life without facing the basic difficulties.
How Would You Know that Your Child Needs Help Developing Hand-Eye Coordination?
Usually, the first problems of hand-eye coordination come to the forefront at the time of your child’s drawing or writing. For example, during drawings, a young kid with problems in eye-hand coordination will show a poor sense of orientation on the page and will be unable to stay within the page or the lines if the job at hand is to color a certain block.
Again, if your child has difficulties developing hand-eye coordination, you will notice it by the way they handle objects and toys; for they will show a lot of dependency on their hands (touch) instead of their visual clues for inspecting or feeling an object.
Poor eye-hand coordination problems can have a number of root causes but the most common ones that are found stem from either movement disorder or visual impairment.
So, as parents, you need to be very attentive to your children’s hand-eye coordination abilities as it may seem that all children could develop hand-eye coordination effortlessly, but on the contrary, many children need help in improving this natural ability of theirs.
15 Activities & Games to Improve Your Child’s Hand-Eye Coordination
Here is a list of indoor and outdoor eye-hand coordination activities for your children to improve their fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and strengthen their visual acuity.
Outdoor Eye-Hand Coordination Activities
Throwing & Catching a Ball
One of the most classic and well-known games to improve hand-eye coordination is throwing and catching a ball.
All you need is a smaller ball, or a softball, or a couple of tennis balls. You can start by simply bouncing the ball off the ground and then gradually increasing the difficulty level by throwing it in the air.
Working in the Garden
Another activity that can be turned into a game is working in the garden with your children.
Let them help you water the plants, pull out weeds, or even help you in planting new seeds. This will not only be a fun activity for them but will also teach them a lot about plants and nature, while improving their motor skills.
This is another game that uses a balloon, but this time instead of catching it, the objective is to keep the balloon up in the air for as long as possible by tossing it back and forth between players.
You can even increase the level of difficulty by trying to hit a certain target while keeping the balloon up in the air. This is not only a great game to improve hand-eye coordination but also helps in improving their bilateral coordination and balance!
If you have a sandpit in your garden, then this is an excellent opportunity to let your kids play and improve their hand-eye coordination skills at the same time.
There are a number of sandpit toys available in the market these days that can help improve hand-eye coordination, such as shovels, spades, buckets, and even miniature tools.
Encourage them to shovel sand into different buckets or pour sand from one bucket to another. This is a great activity if your child is still learning to pour water from a bottle into a cup.
Skipping is not only a great cardiovascular exercise but can also be used as an excellent tool to improve hand-eye coordination and whole body awareness.
You can make this easier by helping your child spin the rope so they just focus on jumping and watching the rope. As they develop this skill, you can encourage them to spin the rope by holding onto both the ends and getting them to spin and jump accordingly.
Bean Bag Toss
This game is very similar to the balloon toss, but uses bean bags instead.
You can start by standing at a distance of about 2 meters from your opponent and then gradually increase the distance as your children get better at the game. The goal is to toss the bean bag and have it land in your opponent’s designated area. You can use a hula hoop on the floor to outline this area.
Dribbling with a Ball Around Cones
This is another excellent activity to improve your child’s hand-eye coordination, as well as their dribbling skills.
You will need to set up a course of cones (or any other objects that can act as markers) and then have your child dribble the ball around them. You can start with a simple straight line and then gradually increase the difficulty level by adding curves and obstacles.
Try to introduce your child to a game from an early age as playing sports is a sure way to improve hand movements and efficiency of the visual field among young kids.
Indoor Eye-Hand Coordination Activities
Drawing & Coloring
One of the best ways to improve hand-eye coordination in young children is to have them do some drawing and coloring.
You can start with basic things such as lines, curves, and shapes, and then gradually progress to more difficult tasks such as coloring in small spaces or even completing a picture from start to finish.
Scoop & Transfer Practice
This is a great activity for young children as it helps improve their hand-eye coordination, as well as their fine motor skills.
You will need to fill a container with rice, beans, or any other similar material, and then have your child scoop it up and transfer it to another container. For example, scooping from the container to a bottle.
Finger painting is a great activity for young children as it not only helps improve their hand-eye coordination but also allows them to be creative and express themselves.
You can start with simple strokes and patterns and then eventually move to more difficult tasks. Be sure to provide lots of colorful paints and paper for your child to use.
Lego or Building Blocks
Building blocks are another excellent way to improve hand-eye coordination in young children, as well as their creativity and problem-solving skills.
You can start by providing them with a few simple blocks and then gradually increase the difficulty level by giving them more complex shapes and patterns to build.
Cutting & Sticking
This is another excellent activity for young children as it helps them develop their fine motor skills, as well as their hand-eye coordination.
You can start by giving them simple shapes to cut out and then eventually move on to more difficult tasks such as cutting out pictures from a magazine or even making their own collage.
Having a Pillow Fight
This might seem like a silly activity, but pillow fights are actually a great way to work on hand-eye coordination in young children.
Not only will they have to dodge the pillows that are being thrown at them, but they will also need to be accurate when throwing their own pillow at their opponent.
This can be a fun activity for kids and adults alike!
Threading & Lacing
This is another excellent activity for young children as it helps them in improving their hand-eye coordination, as well as their fine motor skills.
You can start by giving them a piece of lace and some beads, and then have them try to thread the beads onto the lace.
For older kids, you can get lettered beads and get them to spell our words or create their names.
Puzzles are a great way to enhance hand-eye coordination in young children, as well as their problem-solving skills.
You can start with simple puzzles that have only a few pieces and then gradually increase the difficulty level by adding more pieces or by using different shaped pieces.
Now you know the importance of hand-eye coordination for your child and what you can do to help them improve this faculty of theirs.
Pick any of the activities listed in this article, or you can try out some of your ideas like playing with a hula hoop or an interesting game of pipe cleaners to enhance the coordination between their hands, legs, and eyes.
Greutman, H. (2020, August 12). Eye-hand coordination activities for children. Growing Hands-On Kids. Retrieved March 28, 2022, from https://www.growinghandsonkids.com/eye-hand-coordination-activities-for-children.html
Malcolm, M. (2022, February 2). 25 easy hand and eye coordination ideas for toddlers and babies. Play Ideas. Retrieved March 28, 2022, from https://www.playideas.com/25-easy-hand-and-eye-coordination-ideas-for-toddlers-and-babies/
Mcilroy, A. T. (2022, March 15). 19 hand-eye coordination activities for Kids. Empowered Parents. Retrieved March 28, 2022, from https://empoweredparents.co/hand-eye-coordination/