4 Signs of Visual Motor Difficulty

Visual Motor Skills

Visual motor skills, also called visual motor integration, refers to the skills that combine visual skills, visual perception skills, and motor skills. These are skills that use our eyes and hands in a coordinated way.

For example, if I was looking at a picture of a square and wanted to replicate the shape onto a new sheet of paper, having strong visual motor skills will allow me to do this task easily and correctly.

Poor visual motor skills will make this task more challenging. Essentially, we want our brain, eyes, and hands all to work together in an efficient way! This skill set is the foundation to a child’s day to day activities; cutting, coloring, writing, playing at recess, zipping their coat, or tying their shoes.

When the visual and motor systems are communicating with each other efficiently, these activities are easy for a child to do. When the brain, eyes, and hands are not communicating properly, children will struggle with many of these daily activities.

4 Signs of visual motor difficulty:

  • Poor handwriting

  • Difficulty completing mazes

  • Challenges copying from the board

  • Poor hand-eye coordination.

How do I develop visual motor skills at home?

Hand-eye coordination is using the information received through our eyes to coordinate the hands with control, and handwriting is a major player here.

If you notice that your child has an awkward pencil grip, forms letters from the bottom up or backwards, or has difficulty scanning for information such as in an I Spy book, it may be a sign that you need to strengthen these skills at home. The good news is that there are a lot of ways you can help your child strengthen this skill set!

Here are 5 ways to support your child's visual motor skills:

  • Buy a small pencil grip to teach your child the correct way to hold their pencil

  • Work on mazes or puzzles together

  • Check out I Spy books from the library

  • Engage in gross motor activities such as throwing and catching

  • Correct awkward letter formation as soon as you see it and practice the correct way until you see it becoming a habit

Make Note:

If you notice your child struggling with any of these skills such as letter formation after explicit instruction and repeated practice, it would be helpful to seek advice from their teacher who has access to a school OT or Occupational Therapist. Early intervention is always key, and an OT can prescribe some specific activities to strengthen these skills or hone in on areas that need to be further developed.