What is visual tracking - a key component of reading for children

What is visual tracking? 

So you may have come across this page because you have a child who has difficulty with visual tracking or you are finding it challenging engaging some of your students with their reading.


Visual tracking refers to the ability of the eyes to be able to move from left to right and up and down to follow a moving or stationary object.



We use visual tracking to move our eyes from left to right while reading. We also use visual tracking when watching cars drive past or when throwing and catching a ball.


We need visual tracking to read, navigate through busy crowds, put our toys away.


We can improve visual tracking by:


1 – Playing spot the difference games

2 – Finding objects in a tray of sand or ‘search worksheets’

3 – Playing with a torch around the room and following the torch with our eyes (with our head still as well as with our head moving)

visual tracking early learning reading

4 – Drawing big shapes and letters (large shoulder movements) on a large piece of butchers paper

5 – Throwing a ball back and forth in different directions (high, low, left, right)


To discover more visual tracking strategies download my early learning training manual here.



For students who are easily distracted, use a small torch or infrared light and get the children to point the light to the characters, activities, themes of the book. The goal here is to make reading engaging, fun, not stressful, and light.


Think about your own stress and anxiety as you approach the book too. Often I see educators nervous and anxious when working with children who have learning difficulties. Children pick up on your nervous energy and then feel nervous as well. Try and relax the situation by playing a fun visual tracking game beforehand to relax both of you.


Fun visual tracking activities include:

* Throwing a soft ball at different sight word flashcards on the wall

early learning proprioception visual tracking

* Jumping in to large chalk drawn shapes on the concrete

* Tapping a hanging ball or balloon from the ceiling with a pool noodle


With the introduction of technology children are spending less time practicing their visual tracking skills outside while playing basketball and backyard cricket.

visual tracking technology use children development

As a result, many children are finding it difficult with reading and hand-eye coordination. Our role as educators is to bridge this gap using fun activities that are engaging and therapeutic.


Learn more about visual tracking and play strategies here. 

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