reading activities for kindergarten

Early childhood reading skills and visual development

Reading involves understanding the sounds, rules, and patterns of written language, as well as being able to decode the words on the page using smooth movements of your eyes from one page to the next.
Some children may be born with difficulties in the areas of visual, vestibular, proprioception sensory integration, and/or gross motor skill development and the map of their body and environment around them (book) looks blurry, distorted, or the features of the map seems to move when your eyes or head moves.
Their internal body map is designed to show them where their right arm is compared to their left arm, where the book is compared to their finger tips, how far away the table is from their torso, etc.

With a distorted and confusing body map, you may feel overwhelmed trying to sit still and can't wait to put away the book.


Similarly, children who are finding it difficult to build up their foundation reading skills because the contents of the book look fuzzy, backwards, or moving, may also feel the desire to disengage from reading as quickly as possible, any may avoid reading by:

  • Being distracting or 'silly' in the classroom to avoid having to complete the reading tasks
  • Be extremely quiet in the classroom so that the teacher may not notice that they haven't completed the reading work required
To understand the map or book that needs to be read, your brain and body needs to be able to:
  • Clearly see the map/book (visual system) and maintain your eye's accurate focus on the map/book when your eyes and head move left, right, up and down (vestibular, visual, proprioception systems)
  • Be able to feel and interpret the directions of the map/letters (gross motor skill development, vestibular, visual, proprioception systems) so that you know how to locate the features of the map/letters on the left, right, up, and down directions of your body and your environment without feeling lost or disoriented.
  • Have the ability to show your friend how to navigate the map when they are standing next to you, as well as when your friend is standing in front of you (mirrored in direction to your body). Completing a maze with a friend is a great way to quickly observe the ability of children's orientation and spatial awareness skills.


It's important to know that we develop the sensory systems called vestibular, visual, and proprioception that are needed for reading from as young as a baby to a primary aged child - when we:
  • visually track our caregiver who is moving around the room,
  • reach out with both arms to be picked up by our caregiver,
  • tap two blocks together to make noise
  • bend upside down to touch the ground with our bottom up in the air
  • accurately place food from the highchair tray into your mouth without making a big mess,
  • crawling under the table without bumping into the table legs,
  • rolling from tummy to back and back to front without getting stuck half way, smoothly running, jumping, climbing around our environment without feeling too dizzy to keep moving our head and body.

Our visual system isn't able to develop to it's potential for reading without our body firstly understanding the directions of left, right, up and down from the support of the two functioning vestibular and proprioception systems.


Children who have difficulty with visual tracking or vestibular/proprioception sensory integration may demonstrate some of the following reading challenges:
  • Losing their place when reading
    • Needing to use their finger or ruler to keep track of where they are on the page
    • Re-reads words, skips words, or misses lines of text
  • Substitutes, repeats, or confuses similar words when reading (pat, bat, mat, met)
  • Low reading endurance either due to fatigue of eye muscles and sensory systems, headache, or short attention span
  • Poor comprehension or remembering what is read as they have needed to focus so intensely on their visual and sensory skills
  • Errors and slow speed when copying from a chalkboard or book to paper.
  • Difficulty setting out math equations in correct alignment
As we observe children with reading or writing difficulties, please book children in for an optometry assessment in your local area, and also ensure that children are able to spin, roll, balance, find their nose with their pointer finger, clap to the beat of a metronome.

It is these fundamental motor skills above that children need to practice and master before expecting the brain and eyes to be able to accurately read.


When a child is struggling to read, observe the following developmental areas for the child, including their:
  • Visual sensory system
  • Vestibular sensory system
  • Proprioception sensory system
  • Gross motor skill development (body awareness, spatial orientation, core strength, crossing the midline)

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1 comment

Thanks for all this information which I value in my MCH role.

Delani Smith

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