In last week’s blog on the Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration, assessment of visual motor integration abilities was discussed. Now that you know how it is assessed by many occupational therapists, you are probably wondering what this skill entails and how you can help your child develop it.
Visual motor integration is the coordination of visual perceptual abilities and fine motor control. It is a skill that allows us to use our eyes and our hands in a coordinated and efficient way. A child may not have any visual issues with acuity or perception and may not have any challenges with hand strength or dexterity but the connection between their visual and motor system is not as organized or efficient as it should be. If your child would benefit from strengthening this connection, try out some of the activities below!
Tips to Strengthen Visual Motor Integration
- Practice forming shapes and letters using objects other than pencils or markers. Use string, tooth picks, Wikki Stix, pipe cleaners, or glue.
- Use coloring books. Encourage kids to trace over lines first to help them better see where they want to keep their crayon.
- Complete jigsaw puzzles together. Puzzles typically have an age range suggestion listed on the box and you can always provide as much assistance as your child needs while still allowing them to place the pieces and be proud of their accomplishment!
- String beads onto a pipe cleaner, string, thread, or elastic to make a bracelet or necklace. You can up the challenge by creating a pattern for your child to replicate.
- Complete mazes and dot-to-dots.
- Provide your child with partial drawings for them to complete. This could either be half of a picture that he copy onto the other side or a picture with components missing.
- Tape small targets to a wall and try to bounce a ball once on the floor before hitting one of the targets. These targets could be index cards or pieces of paper with anything on them. This is a great way to work on letters, sight words, math problems, or anything else your child may need practice with!
- Cut out shapes beginning with short straight lines before moving to curves and turns. As they progress with this skill, cut out shapes and paste the pieces together to create art!
- Work on folding paper with paper airplanes, origami, or paper fortune tellers.
- Use step-by-step drawing books. These help kids to break down the whole drawing into more manageable parts.
- If writing inside the lines is difficult, try highlighting the top and bottom lines to increase their awareness and get them more used to writing with the correct sizing. If math problems are challenging to line up, using graph paper can help to keep their work neater and easier to follow.
When developing new skills, always be sure to work at your child’s pace. If it is still very difficult for her to draw a square consistently, continue working on her prewriting shapes before expecting her to form many of her letters. As she masters new abilities, she will build foundational skills and confidence for increasingly challenging tasks!