Pushing Focus III
Pushing focus, and eventually finding active focus, is going to be a significant accomplishment for your child. Depending on age and disposition this may take some time. Time in small and relaxed increments – once we have active focus, it will be a lifelong skill to help your child maintain healthy eyesight.
It’s a bit like first figuring out how to wink, or wiggle your nose. Takes time!
Since you already did all the work leading up to this, and supporting this simple exercise, let’s get right to it.
All we need, is some visual context:
You can use a Snellen, text or images on the screen, or even street signs outside (depending on the child’s age). Anything that is in blur, that we can assess, will work. For this installment, I’ll use one of my favorite tools, which does not require any distinction for younger ages:
A quick search for ‘child eye chart’ or ‘child snellen’ on your favorite e-commerce store will give you results to choose from, if you want to buy charts. Alternately, you can print your own, or even print a big sheet of various sizes of shapes, that you can rearrange on a board (to prevent cheating).
Depending on how creative you feel, you might make this a project with your child:
One of my clients had bought a a writing board at the local hardware store, to which magnets would stick. She then bought magnetic letters and animal shapes of various sizes, to arrange on the board. A fun idea, and incentive for the child to participate in playing the game!
You can even just use your refrigerator for this, though it’s more fun if you let some anticipation build up by taking your child shopping. Participation creates pride and interest, keep that in mind.
It’s magnetized letters, available here on Amazon.com.
You could do a little shopping, depending on the child’s age, for simple animal shapes, or take the letter idea further, with ones with varying sizes. You can create easily re-arranged custom Snellen charts, right on your fridge! At a cost of just a few dollars, it allows for creativity and fun while we play the focus game.
Let’s move on, to just that, now:
You want to encourage the child to push focus. Easiest way to do that is to move back (let’s use the fridge example here), until the child can’t quickly tell you what shape or letter he/she is looking at. Measure that distance, maybe put down a piece of masking tape on the floor at the child’s feet, to easily get to that spot again.
Now, encourage the child to make out the letters or animal shapes. No squinting, but blinking is ok! Ten minutes of this is plenty to work on focusing.
Keep in mind that the active focus distance is very small. If you move back into full blur, too far, it will be futile and frustrating. A centimeter or two may make all the difference. Find that spot, and make it fun!
It also helps if you yourself have done the adult program, and understand active focus – just so you have perspective on distances, and pushing focus.
So what are we doing, today?
Pick a day that you have time to do a little shopping, online or locally. Put it in the calendar!
Decide how you want to set it up. A board in the child’s play room? The fridge? Both? Think about structured games, like competitions of distance to the letters among the children, or between you and the child. Keeping track of distances is a nice touch, the child may well be motivated by seeing the distances increase. Permanent marker, or label printers, either on the floor or the wall parallel, keeping track with a note of the date.
This should give you lots to work with. Paired with the previous installments, proper close-up prescription, enforcing distance, this adds the first active component to the mix.
Get out there and enjoy your new vision improvement knowledge!