Let me start with an apology. I know it is cruel for us to bring up a school in the middle of August. You finally had some more time to spend with your kids and while we all agree education is crucial – we wouldn’t mind keeping them at home for just a little bit longer! However, we cannot escape reality and you might already start thinking in the background what preparations and shopping you still have to do before you send them off into a new school year.
There is one aspect, though, that is often forgotten. We all remember to buy new notebooks, pencils, and a shiny new backpack. But aren’t we forgetting about something that is even more crucial to their educational triumphs? That’s correct: vision and healthy eyes! We absorb more than 80 % of all knowledge through vision and nowhere is the consequence of vision problems more apparent than with reading and learning.
Reading and writing are visual tasks!
When I think of my experience of school, a lot of it depended on my ability to follow closely what was happening at the front of classroom on the whiteboard. Yet, most information was received through reading and writing. With great confidence we can say that reading and writing are probably two of the most common activities that we undertake in school, as well as throughout our lives. It is important to realize that whenever we sit to write something down, read a book or a computer monitor – we are in fact performing a visual task.
Reading and Reading Comprehension
Reading sounds like something we do almost subconsciously. We rarely think about what has to work in perfect synchronization for us to perform the reading task. You need to direct both eyes at the same point accurately and in perfect coordination. To make the reading school material clear, we need to focus and then move two eyes continually as a perfectly trained team across the line of print. Whenever we move from one line in the text to another – this whole process has to start all over. Yet, in healthy eyes – it all goes seamlessly!
Of course, this is just the ‘mechanical’ element of reading. To really understand and gain comprehension through the reading process, we are always collecting visual information and changing this written content into a mental image that we can memorize. Memory and visualization are used to relate the information we learn in school or observe in life to what we already know so that we are able to make sense of what is being read.
Writing, too, needs eyes!
Another element of school work and learning is writing. Writing works similarly, yet we could say that it behaves in almost reverse to what we said about reading. We start with an image in our mind and code it into words. At the same time, we control the movement of the pencil while continually working to keep the written material making sense. Eye-hand movement coordination becomes one of the key visual functions that are needed for writing to work. Throughout all this, we focus our eyes and move them together just as in the reading process.
Complicated visual procedures are involved in both reading and writing. A problem with any or all of the visual parts of the processes described above can present difficulties in some way with reading and or writing. It is highly recommended that before the start of every school year we take our little ones for a comprehensive eye examination. Eye problems can be in many cases resolved very quickly if caught early enough, as there are treatments that work magic. When it comes to lazy eye or convergence insufficiency a couple of vision therapy sessions with the doctor or a software tool for vision therapy such as AmblyoPlay can suffice.