Preventing Early Learning Failure

By Bob Sornson | Go to book overview

8
VISION AND LEARNING

Nancy Sornson

Suzanna is a beautiful, bright 6-year-old child who is struggling in kindergarten. She can’t remember how the alphabet letters and numbers look, and she prints her name illegibly. She is clumsy and bumps into other children in line, although her classmates are tolerant because she is friendly and well liked. Coloring, puzzles, dot-to-dots, cutting, bead work, and other near-point visual tasks are difficult. Her teacher describes her as extremely active and easily distracted, especially when asked to do any sustained activity like drawing or journal work. She loves the playground, but her balance is poor, so she avoids climbing equipment and the raised balance beams and tire walk.

At first glance we might define Suzanna as hyperactive, immature, difficult, tuned-out, or learning disabled. A closer look reveals that Suzanna is delayed in her motor and visual skill development. She is struggling in class because her nearpoint visual skills are not ready to handle sustained table work. Her poor balance keeps her from sitting calmly and attending easily. She has not yet developed a clear sense of her body’s position in space. She will need intervention quickly if she is going to be a successful learner. Otherwise, Suzanna will begin on a path of early learning failure from which she may never reach her potential.

Many young children fall behind in school largely because their visual systems do not work well. These visual problems may not show up on the yearly school vision test. School vision screenings are designed to test acuity—what a child sees clearly at near and far points. Vision is more than

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