Visual skills for effective learning

Vision is more than the ability to see clearly or have 20/20 vision. It is also the ability to understand and respond to what is seen. There are many basic visual skills beyond seeing clearly that are important in supporting academic success.

All children must have the following visual skills for effective reading and learning:

  • Visual acuity:the ability to see clearly in the distance to see the whiteboard, at an intermediate distance to use a computer, and up close to read a book.
  • eye focus:the ability to quickly and accurately maintain clear vision as the distance of objects changes, such as when looking from the whiteboard to a piece of paper on the desk and back. The eye focus allows the child to easily maintain a clear vision over time, such as when she reads a book or writes a text.
  • Eye Tracking:the ability to keep the eyes on the target when looking from one object to another, moving the eyes across a printed page or following a moving object such as a thrown ball.
  • Eye team:the ability to coordinate and use both eyes at the same time when moving the eyes across a printed page, and to be able to judge distances and see depth for class work and sports.
  • Eye-hand coordination:the ability to use visual information to control and direct the hands when drawing or trying to hit a ball.
  • Visual perception:the ability to organize pictures on a printed page into letters, words, and ideas and to understand and remember what is read.


Other visual perception skills include:

  • Recognition:the ability to distinguish between letters like “b” and “d”.
  • Understanding: “imagine” in the child's mind what is happening in a story they are reading.
  • Retention:recall and recall details of what we read.

If any of these visual skills are missing or not working properly, the child will have to work harder to learn just as effectively. Students struggling with a learning-related vision problem may experience headaches, eye strain, and fatigue. Parents and teachers should be alert to symptoms that may indicate that a child has a vision problem.

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