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Eye-Hand Coordination — A Team That Works Together to Get the Job Done

By Barbara Greenspan, OT, Pediatric Occupational Therapist


Many of us think eye-hand coordination is something the ‘big-kids’ need to play team sports like baseball and tennis. But actually, eye-hand coordination begins developing in early infancy. In order to achieve proper coordination, the hands and eyes must work together in smooth and efficient patterns. This is achieved through effective control of the head and neck, which enables the eyes to monitor the work of the hands.


The Eyes: Nature has it set up so that controlled eye movements developmentally precede controlled hand movements. That is why babies use their eyes before they master the use of their hands. As infants, eyes develop in a clear developmental sequence as follows:



The Hands: Just like the eyes develop in a sequence designed for function, so do the hands.



Mastery of reaching for objects requires good postural control of the head, neck, trunk and upper arms. These areas must be strong before good hand manipulation occurs. Think of a tree-the trunk must be strong in order to support the branches (so much goes in to this eye-hand coordination!).


The first “tool” for eye-hand: When the hands are developing they progress from a simple grasp-release pattern through using tools and objects. The first real “tool” introduced to the hand is the spoon for self-feeding. The hand holds it and the eyes watch the spoon to direct it from the food on the plate to the mouth. As the child grows, they use more refined tools like crayons (use small, broken ones to fit the little hands!) and the eyes are watching as the hand moves the crayon. As the child gets older, he or she can begin to follow mazes and use the eyes to lead the hand in the right direction. In pre-school at 3 or 4 years old, he or she begin to cut with scissors and use the eyes to direct their hands.


Ways to work on eye-hand:



Eye-hand coordination is something that begins to develop at birth and continues throughout childhood. It is a skill children use daily in their occupations as students and athletes - and for just plain fun! So enjoy, and notice how much you use your eyes to direct your hands! You will be amazed!


Great toys for developing Hand - Eye Coordination


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