Yesterday I was at the most amazing training session. It was the last session on a course which I have thoroughly enjoyed leading and am proud to be a part of – the Early Years SENCO, run by Stockport Local Authority and certified by Manchester Metropolitan University.
All ten sessions have been really informative and very enjoyable. However, the reason for particularly singling out yesterday’s session is that I now know why my husband can’t find Wally!
Let me explain. My youngest son and I often ‘read’ a Where’s Wally in the evening in lieu of a bedtime story. It sometimes gets a bit competitive, but is great fun.
One night my husband was stand in for the bedtime routine and caused much amusement by not being able to find any of the characters. I did suspect at the time that he was doing this so he would be excused doing bedtime again, but no! The Occupational Therapists (OTs) running yesterday’s course explained that he may have visual perception problems.
Visual perception is partially what we see but is also linked to what the brain does with the information that the eyes send it – how it interprets the incoming data. The OTs went on to show some really simple, effective things you can do to improve children’s visual perception, such as covering most of a photograph and asking the children to guess what the whole picture is.
The picture is gradually revealed to see if the children are right. Similarly, using jigsaw pieces and asking the children to guess what that is a small piece of. Simple, easy activities which support such a vital skill.
There were lots of other great activities and information around sensory processing, but discussing visual processing reminded me about a conversation I’ve been having with Kathryn Albany-Ward about colour blindness. She has the best website at http://www.colourblindawareness.org/ which has examples of what it looks like to be colour blind.
Did you know approximately 8% of men are colour blind? So how many children in your setting could be struggling with this right now? And how often do we use colour as an additional ‘clue’ to help children? We may, in fact, be asking them to do the impossible! Do check out the website and see how you can support your children more effectively.
But back to why it’s important to have good visual perception. Without this skill there are problems with 3D awareness (a circle can represent a sphere, for example) and also visual spatial awareness (think of Escher’s pictures – what is a ‘finger space’ if you have no concept of ‘space’?).
In the course of the morning a whole new world was opened up to me. For example, where does simply not liking messy play end and sensory processing problems start? It really was an amazing morning and I sincerely thank the OTs for sharing such valuable information with us.
However, it still doesn’t explain how Husband can find the bottle opener in the melee of the cutlery drawer but not Wally…