Different types of basic physical exercise, singing games, hide and seek, and other physically active play enhances body perception and builds the foundation for development of visual perception and visual-motor skills.

Visual perception

Visual perception refers to the way in which the brain interprets and processes visual information in the surrounding environment. Visual perception problems may include the following:

  • Difficulties in understanding direction, distance or location.
  • Difficulties to distinguishing differences in object/picture size, length, shape or background.
  • Naming colours and shapes is problematic.
  • The child may have difficulties finding an object he or she is looking for a room.
  • The child gets worried in new places as he or she cannot understand the layout.
  • Distinguishing and naming letters and numbers is difficult.
  • Reverse letters and numbers.

Eye and hand cooperation

Visual-motor skills refer to planning and achieving appropriate movement based on visual perception. Eye-hand coordination is the most important part of visual-motor skills.

Problems in these skills may include for instance the following:

  • Catching a ball and playing a game with a racket, bat or stick may be difficult.
  • Pencil work is of no interest, drawing from a model is difficult.
  • Jig-saw puzzles are difficult.
  • Threading beads is difficult.
  • Building identical shapes from model with Legos or building blocks is not successful or of no interest.

Right-handedness and left-handedness

A child’s preference in using either left or right hand after his or her fourth birthday should be observed. The dominant hand is clear in fine motor skills, such as cutting, drawing and daily activities, e.g. eating. Establishment of handedness is important to allow for fine motor skills to become distinct and automatic. The dominant hand should be established at the latest by the time a child enters school. To determine the dominant hand, day-to-day routines should be observed to see which hand the child prefers when starting an activity.

Body management skills

Body perception starts already before birth when the baby experiences his or her mother’s movements. Close interaction with parents is important to a baby. Body perception involves the sense of sight, hearing and touch. Perception helps a child to picture his or her environment, structure of items and his or her body in relation to the environment. Body perception is the foundation of learning motor skills.

Difficulties in body perception may include the following:

  • Dressing, meals and playing together with other children is complicated.
  • Clumsy movement and poor balance.
  • The child cannot name body parts.
  • Difficult to learn various moves and games, e.g. finger play is problematic.
  • The child does not picture him- or herself in relation to the surrounding space (e.g. whether he or she is in
  • front of, behind a chair; under or on a bed).
  • Cutting with scissors is difficult.

If your child faces any of these difficulties, you should tell his or her caregiver, teacher or special teacher about it. You can practise doing things by playing together, doing jigsaw puzzles, drawing and playing with Lego blocks.