It’s that time again. The leaves start to fall, the air gets cooler and kids head back to school. Though kids use their eyes a lot in the summer for screen-time there is often less time spent on activities that require focus. Sometimes it’s these activities that can indicate whether or not a child’s vision is developing properly. Falling behind in school or difficulty learning are often indicators of vision problems in kids. Knowing what to look out for before it affects your child’s learning is key to helping your kid succeed this school year.
Four signs your child might fall behind this fall due to vision issues:
Short Attention Span
Having a short attention span or the inability to focus on an activity is not uncommon in toddlers. As children get older their attention span increases in most cases. Sometimes the inability to focus can be attributed to Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD or ADHD). Though many kids with ADHD do have vision problems, some kids without the disorder have trouble focussing because they are actually having trouble focussing, literally. Vision issues can mimic ADHD symptoms. If you notice your child’s attention span has changed or it doesn’t show signs of increasing with age, take them to the eye doctor for a check-up to rule out any vision-related issues.
Losing Place When Reading
Though it isn’t uncommon for younger children to use an index finger to guide them while reading so they don’t lose their place; if your child has trouble reading or frequently loses his/her/their place and has to start over, your child’s vision might be a factor. While tracking isn’t a bad thing and is shown to help guide slower readers, increase comprehension or teach speed reading, if your child relies on it to focus it might indicate a vision problem. If your child stopped using finger tracking while reading and has started again consider getting their eyes checked.
Avoiding Reading or Close-Up Activities
If your child doesn’t enjoy reading or did enjoy it and is suddenly avoiding it, it may be because it’s become a chore. WIth blurred vision making it difficult to see words or put together sentences properly, reading can be more like hard work then a relaxing activity. Even if your child isn’t a reader but shows signs of avoiding close-up activities they once showed interest in such as drawing, crafts or playing board games, this could indicate vision problems.
Tilting Head or Covering One Eye
If your child tilts or turns their head to the side or doesn’t look at the TV straight on it could indicate astigmatism or a refractive error in their vision. Turning or tilting their head may be their way of self-correcting, adjusting the angle of vision to try and increase clarity. This may also indicate strabismus or misaligned eyes. Covering one eye may be a sign of ‘lazy eye’ or amblyopia as the child compensates for poorer vision in one eye. If you notice this behaviour, especially in young children, be sure to let your doctor know and make an appointment for an eye exam as these conditions are often correctable when caught early.
Not Seeing the Board Leads to Bored
Back to school means more reading, writing and activities that require focus. Seeing the board, and being able to follow along with peers and focus can help a child thrive. Sometimes a child has never had clear vision but it may not become obvious until they are in a setting where they must focus for long periods of time. If they can’t see the board or what’s going on in the classroom they may act out because of boredom or frustration and feel left out. Correcting vision problems in children is imperative to success in school and their well-being. Catching kid’s eye issues early is the key to making sure they don’t become more serious. If your child still has trouble learning or focussing after their vision problems are corrected, it may indicate other conditions such as ADHD or a learning disability. Taking your child for routine eye exams to rule out vision problems and discussing any other concerns with their doctor is one way to help your kid thrive in school, and in life.