Visual Scanning and Tracking

“I spy with my little eye!”

Visual scanning and tracking involves moving the eyes from left to right to help them find, focus on and follow an object.

It’s an important skill for tasks that require eye-hand coordination (the eyes guiding the hand/s in coordinated movement) such as copying from the blackboard, spelling and reading.

How do I know if my child is having difficulty with their visual scanning and tracking skills?

Your youngster may need help with their visual scanning and tracking abilities if they regularly:

  • Lose their place on a page when they’re reading or writing
  • Forget where to start reading (e.g. starting at the left side of the page and following the line from left to right)
  • Find it difficult to put letters or numbers in the correct sequence (e.g. while spelling or solving math problems)
  • Have trouble remembering the alphabet in the right order

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Fun Activities

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Ways you can help your child with their visual scanning skills

Below are some fun activities that will help little miss or mister to develop their visual scanning and tracking skills:

  • Completing mazes and ‘Dot to Dot’ games
  • Ball games (e.g. rolling a ball from left to right, hitting a ball with a bat, playing with a balloon on a string)
  • Blowing bubbles and watching them drop or popping them
  • Playing ‘looking games’ such as ‘I Spy’ and ‘Follow the Torch’*
  • Watching an object move across the table (e.g. toy car, wind-up toy, puppet)
  • Watching a toy car roll down a ramp
  • Playing with marbles
  • Following balloons as they float across the room
  • Flying paper planes
  • Looking up at the sky for birds or planes and following their flight path

*To play ‘Follow the Torch’, sit in a dark room with your scallywag and move the torchlight around the ceiling. Encourage them to follow the light with their eyes while keeping their head still.

Some additional tips for improving your child’s visual scanning and tracking skills

As well as giving your little one verbal encouragement to look from left to right, you might want to try visual cues. For example, using green (for ‘go’) and red (for ‘stop’) stickers on the corners of the page to show junior where to start reading and writing.

Sometime the difficulties kids experience with scanning and tracking stem from issues with crossing midline (crossing the centre of the body with the arms, legs or eyes).

Head over to our Crossing Midline page to see if little miss or mister would benefit from honing this skill too.

PlayBiz Members Only Content

This content is especially for PlayBiz members. For a modest fee* you can gain exclusive access to even more foundation skill building strategies, including video demonstrations of our ‘teachable moment’ activities. Want an Access All Areas pass to a bigger, brighter future for your little one? Become a PlayBiz member today!

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Combined Videos

Combining several foundation skills, our PlayBiz Play-a-Long videos run for 10 minutes or so. We’ve carefully ordered the activities so they enable your youngster to have an optimal learning experience and develop the skills they’ll need for school by joining in the ‘teachable moments’. Picture a fun and educational TV program like PlaySchool crossed with an occupational therapy session that’s chock full of strategies. Ready, steady, learn! Please note: The Play-a-Long videos don’t need to be viewed in any particular order.