Visual perception helps children recognize letters and shapes.

How to Check Visual Perception in Toddlers

by Melissa King

Most children love to interact with the world, but for a toddler with poor visual perception, even playtime can become a frustrating chore. Visual perception enables your child to read, visualize objects and perform physical activities. Kids with low visual perception may confuse letters and words, seem easily distracted and appear clumsy at sports or dancing. It's important to check your toddler's visual perception now, before he heads to preschool, to avoid any learning delays in the classroom.

Read with your child, and ask your child to read simple passages or words aloud, if possible. If your child transposes letters and reads words incorrectly, she may have a visual perception problem. For example, your child might say "was" instead of "saw."

Write letters of the alphabet on a sheet of paper. Make some of the letters upside-down and at an angle. Ask your toddler to identify the letters. Children with visual perception problems have trouble identifying letters that aren't written normally. This test also works for shapes and numbers.

Observe your child at play. If he often seems frustrated with a task, quickly gets distracted from a game or seems especially clumsy at physical activities, this may indicate a perception problem.

Have your child solve a simple maze or draw a straight line between two points. Children with perception issues cannot do this task well.

Give your child short instructions involving spatial terms. For example, ask your toddler to look for a toy under the bed or to climb over the equipment at the playground.

Give your child some objects to organize in a box. Children with perception problems will often stuff all the objects into a small corner of the box rather than space them out evenly.

Ask your toddler to find a specific item in a container full of similar objects. For example, have her pick out the red shirt in a laundry basket or a blue crayon from the box of crayons.

Place an object so that half is hidden and half is revealed to your child. Ask your toddler to identify the object.

Play catch with your toddler. Watch her eyes as you throw the ball. If she can't track the ball in the air, she may have a perception problem. Children with perception problems also have trouble catching and throwing balls.

Ask your child to retrieve a familiar object. If he knows where the object is, he should be able to find it easily. With a perception issue, though, he'll have trouble recalling the object's location.


  • If you have concerns about your child's visual capabilities, ask her pediatrician to examine her. Teachers and clinical psychologists may also offer some help.
  • Most children grow out of their visual perception problems by 9 years old.
  • Help your child improve his visual perception by playing board or computer games with him. Sports, exercise and art activities are also useful.

About the Author

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.

Photo Credits

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