Eye-Strengthening Exercises for Childrenby A. Elizabeth Freeman
The ability to see and the ability to understand what you see is an important skill, particularly for school-aged children who need to focus to learn effectively and do well in school. Even if your child excels in reading and other academics, it may be worth your while to spend a few minutes daily doing exercises to improve his eye skills.
The eyes need to work together as a team to see objects at a close distance, such as words in a book. Test your child's eyes ability to work together and look inward by placing a pencil or finger about 18 inches away from his face. Hold the finger or pencil vertically and position it so that it lines up with the nose. Your child should look right at the finger or pencil. Slowly bring it toward his face, instructing him to keep his eyes on it. As you bring the object closer to his face, one eye should turn toward his nose, as if crossed. Slowly take the object away, making note of when the eye turns back to the forward position. Training the eyes to converge, or look at the same close object, is essential for developing good reading skills.
Hang a monthly calendar on the wall or an image of the alphabet, arrayed in a grid. Give your child an object, such as a pencil, to held in her hand. You can also give her a smaller version of the alphabet or calendar to hold. Tell her to hold the pencil or small calender about 10 inches away from her face, so she can see it clearly and in focus. When you say "go," have her look to the calendar or alphabet on the wall. She should focus her eyes on it so that it is clear. Say "go" again and her shift her gaze back to the pencil. Repeat several times. Focus practice will train your child to be able to switch her gaze between a blackboard at school and the notepaper on her desk, which will help boost her ability to participate in a classroom setting.
As your child learns to read or to do math problems on paper, he needs to be able to keep his place in the text visually, so that he doesn't skip over words or sentences or switch letters within the words. You can help your child improve his ability to follow words on the page by swinging a ball on a string before his eyes. Position the ball at the level of your child's nose. Gently swing the ball back and forth, and instruct your child to follow the ball with his eyes. He shouldn't move his head. You can also swing the ball toward and away from your child and tell him to follow it with his eyes.