Many children report that it is hard for them to copy off the board. It may be that your child has difficulty taking notes or writing down homework assignments that are seen on the board in the classroom.

Sometimes, a child’s eyesight might be tested, finding no problems. However, the child often fails to write down the homework for the night. He or she may regularly complain or cry when asked to copy down notes or to write down a list of instructions from the board.

Perhaps attention to this task in a busy classroom is too much for your child. It can be hard to attend and copy information. This task takes a lot of brain energy and focus, particularly since writing is a cognitively demanding task.

Some children who have these challenges may also have a deficit in processing speed, which can be related to attention and simply means that it takes a child longer to complete a task. When a child works slowly, the pace of the classroom becomes a major source of frustration. Many very bright children struggle with processing speed.

In addition to academic issues, children who struggle with visual tracking may also have a difficult time with playing ball (e.g., playing balloon toss or ball games), reading street signs, drawing, and participating in sports (e.g., baseball).

What do challenges with Visual Tracking look like?

  • Taking a long time to write down homework from the board?
  • Having trouble taking notes?
  • Struggling significantly to copy information from one place to another?
  • Only finishing half the work because of fatigue copying down directions?
  • Having difficulty visually tracking what he or she is reading?
  • Often failing to get information written down in the right order?
  • Visually losing his or her place a lot?
  • Using his or her finger to move along the words while reading?

Why is Visual Tracking happening?

Clinically, kids who have trouble with copying off the board or with reading could have several specific challenges related to tracking. Visual tracking: means visually following words on a page as you read or an object as it moves through space. For example, the words, “Homework tonight: Math Lesson 3.4 and Spelling list #11” might look like “Mathon 304 list 11.” The child is having trouble seeing the words laid out properly. Visual sequencing: means visually putting things in order or noticing the sequence visually, that is, seeing where the words are and following along with the correct order. Visual memory is the ability to see something on the board and to remember it long enough to copy it down. Challenges in any of these areas will make it hard for your child to copy things off the board at school. An accommodation for this would be to have the teacher provide a copy of the notes or to allow the child to take a picture of the board with a phone or tablet.

How can I manage Visual Tracking at home?

If your child struggles with visual tracking, copying from the board and/or fine motor skills, first try a few classroom accommodations. Some potentially helpful accommodations include:

  • Allow your child to use a smartphone to take a picture of each assignment instead of attempting to copy it from the board
  • Offer up the opportunity for your child can sit closer to the board
  • Have your child get copies of the notes that are in each lecture
  • Give your child a chance to ask questions aloud while copying or during lecture
  • Request that your child have clarification about visuals like graphs and tables
  • Allow your child to use a raised surface, such as a slant board or binder, place a sticker to show where the start and end spots are, and reduce visual distractions in the room (such as nametags and distracting posters/charts).

If challenges continue, consider a psychoeducational evaluation to look closely at your child’s learning and processing strengths and weaknesses related to writing, fine motor coordination and attention.

In addition, you can try some strategies at home to increase your child’s abilities (below).

Activities to help strengthen your child’s visual tracking abilities

  • Completing puzzles, dot to dots, and mazes
  • Placing a marble in a pie pan and rotating the pan in all directions, watching the marble without moving your head (you can also paint the marble and put paper on the bottom of the pan to make a painting)
  • Playing with marble runs
  • Following a laser pointer without moving your head
  • Playing Zoomball
  • Playing a game of balloon toss and encouraging the child to track the balloon as they hit it
  • Using a flashlight and having the child find different items around the room in a game of I-Spy
  • Watching others play ping-pong and trying to follow the ball
  • Reading a story or magazine article and circling all of the a’s or o’s

How can Clear Child Psychology help with Visual Tracking?

If your child is struggling with this symptom to the point that it is getting in the way of his or her learning, relationships, or happiness, it’s time to seek professional help.

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Our Free Discovery Session is a 20-minute consultation where we can talk one-on-one about the concerns and questions you have about your child.

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