Here’s a staggering statistic: 60 to 80 percent of the brain is involved in vision, so the way our minds interpret what we see has everything to do with how we learn. When a child sits down in front of a whiteboard, if they can’t see it properly, they’re not set up for success – but nearsightedness and farsightedness are just two of the vision issues that can alter how effectively our kids learn. Below, discover some things every parent of a young child should know about vision and learning.
Look Out for Symptoms of Vision Issues
If a child is struggling with their sight, they tend to display common symptoms like closing one eye while reading, rubbing their eyes, bloodshot eyes, or turning/tilting their head to read. Other signs of vision problems reveal themselves in poor school performance. Dr. Joshua Watt of Impact Vision Therapy in Colorado Springs says, “If you feel your kid isn’t achieving their true potential, that they’re a smart kid but their grades don’t show it,” that could be a sign that there’s something wrong with their vision. If your child constantly comes home extremely fatigued or exhausted, this could be because their brain is working twice as hard just to process the information in front of them
Know the Questions to Ask During School Vision Screenings
School vision screenings are designed to catch simple refractive issues like astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness, but Dr. Watt notes that there are many other issues that parents should be aware of. Amblyopia is when one eye sees differently than the other eye, also known as lazy eye. Convergence insufficiency is a condition in which the eyes are unable to work together in close-up vision. Unfortunately, most school screenings don’t test for these.
Another big one is improper tracking. When we first learn to read, some children use their finger to guide their eyes across the page. Dr. Watt says that our eyes have to learn to scan the page in coordinated and patterned movements, but if kids are skipping all over, that can hinder learning. If the issue is diagnosed early on, it can be fixed, but, if educators see that a child can’t focus and skips around, they could misconstrue that as a symptom of learning issues like ADD and ADHD.
Get Them Regular Eye Exams
Most parents might not know it, but eye exams should happen on an annual basis while they’re in school. Dr. Watt says that the first eye exam should happen between six months and a year old. If everything is good, the next should happen around three years old, and again at five. “Every year that they’re in school they need to have an eye exam to make sure that all those visual skills are where they need to be for them to be successful in the classroom,” he says, “The earlier we can catch things, the easier it is to fix them. However, age is not a factor. It’s never too late to correct a vision problem”
Make Your Kids Play Outside
What does being outdoors and running around have to do with vision and learning? According to Dr. Watt, everything. “These kids are stuck in the classroom eight hours a day but where do we develop visual skills? It’s in real-life activities,” he stresses. “We don’t develop those skills by reading more otherwise reading more would fix the problem. Kids nowadays play video games, and they sit on a device and stay focused at a single distance. They’re not shifting their focus as if they were climbing a tree or playing ball. They don’t develop these skills the way they should. We’re expecting kids to do more with less.” Bottom line: visual skills are learned and honed during physical activities.
When it comes to ensuring your child has the best opportunity for learning, vision is critical. Dr. Watt and the professionals at Impact Vision Therapy offer binocular vision evaluations, as well as vision therapy solutions for more complex issues. Whatever the case, they’ll get to the heart of the problem. Concerned about whether any of this applies to your child? Pick up the phone and call (719) 302-8922 for a consultation or visit ImpactVisionTherapy.com.