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Pre-Reading Activities for Children with Visual Impairments

The development of fine motor skills is important for all students but is especially important for students who are visually impaired and blind as they rely on their hands to learn about their world. 

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Although we think of play as just for fun – many of the activities children engage in are actually preparing them to be Braille readers. It has been noted by educators that blind and visually impaired students typically start school with less than average finger and hand strength than their sighted peers.


Sometimes blind and visually impaired children come to preschool or kindergarten with less than average strength in their hands and fingers. This is the age that pre-reading and reading and writing activities should formally begin for children. Even if your child is not a future tactile reader, it is wise to spend time playing with him or her to develop arm, hand, and finger strength. Below is a partial list of activities you and your child might enjoy while doing just this.” – Ruby Ryles, Ph.D. 

Activities such as pushing a wagon or toy cars, doing yoga, playing wheelbarrow – all of these can work toward strengthening hands and arms. As for their fingers and grip strength – tearing up paper and crumbling into balls to throw! Squeezing water out of sponges and washcloths, playing with Playdough/clay. Many of the manipulative toys such as Legos, Duplo’s, Tinker Toys, Log Cabin Logs, Pop Beads all will also enhance grip and finger strength. If your child likes to ride on a scooter, they can hold onto the rope while you tow them. 

With summer approaching consider squirt guns or using old (clean) kitchen squirt bottles for some fun water activities that will also help them gain hand strength. Another fun summer activity is drawing in wet sand with a stick, if you don’t have a beach nearby you can recreate this in a baking pan at home. And, who doesn’t love popping packing bubble sheets?
For more ideas on activities to help children strengthen their fingers, hand and arms click here.

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