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Hand-eye coordination is an important part of any child's development. We rely on this skill to perform both simple and complex tasks, from feeding ourselves to athletic feats. Because your hands and eyes function separately from one another, they rely on the brain for coordination. Hand-eye coordination develops in children naturally over time and can be improved with practice.
Almost everyone has had an infant grasp firmly onto a finger with a tiny fist. While newborns will not have fully developed eyesight, the ability to hold onto objects is the first sign of the beginning of hand-eye coordination. As a baby's eyesight develops, the infant will begin to reach for objects near them. By three or four months, a baby may begin to pick up objects placed near them. As hand-eye coordination continues to improve, a child of six months may even gain the ability to pass objects from one hand to the other. At this stage, the brain is beginning to tell the hand where to reach based on what the eye is perceiving. Between nine and 12 months, a child typically begins to show hand preference, by continually using a dominant hand.
Throughout the first years of life, a child continues to develop hand-eye coordination. A benchmark in hand-eye coordination comes at the age of three. By now the child should have the ability to throw a ball away from them and to catch a ball against themselves. Use large, soft balls to practice this skill with a child, gradually reducing the size of the ball as hand-eye coordination improves.
When schooling begins, a child should have refined the skill enough to work with puzzles and games and will have the ability to put on clothes. By six years of age, a child's eyes should be starting to be able to track objects, though more complicated skills such as kicking or catching a ball may still need some practice.
If your child seems to be behind in the stages of normal hand-eye coordination, consult your doctor. Providing activities that encourage healthy growth and development can also help a child improve coordination. Encourage your child to practice art activities that require fine motor skills such as drawing with crayons or painting with a paintbrush. Toys such as building blocks that encourage building and shape sorting can help a child develop better judgement skills through sight. Playing catch with a soft object or rolling a ball back and forth can also help improve hand-eye coordination.