School is starting: Do you know how to set up your child’s homework and reading spot? Reading and writing are some of the most fundamental skills that your child to facilitate learning in school, so it is important to make sure that your child's eyes are comfortable when they are working at near distances. How they sit, the length at which they hold a book or even a digital device, and their posture all play an integral part in ensuring that the visual system is at ease, enabling the mind to absorb and integrate what they are reading. Here are some tips to help your child feel comfortable while reading.
- Make sure your child is working at the appropriate distance for near work - the Harmon Distance
When you read or do near work, there is a specific distance that enables your visual system to work most efficiently without experiencing any stress. This distance is known as the Harmon distance and it can be determined by holding your fist to your cheek. The location of your elbow from your fist is now at the Harmon distance, the most comfortable distance for your visual system to read and absorb information.
Looking out for whether your child is working at the Harmon distance when he/she reads will allow you as a parent to understand a number of things about how their eyes are functioning:
- When your child holds reading material too close to their eyes, their eyes will converge or turn inwards. This can cause unnecessary eye strain which will impact their reading ability.
- Holding reading material too close also means your eyes need to focus more than usual as the print is too close. This also causes you to strain your eyes which in turn can lead to tiredness, headaches and even myopia (nearsightedness).
Note: A child with healthy eyesight will naturally hold reading material at the correct distance. If a child is holding books too close or too far away, it may be an indication of a vision problem, or it may be because the child is sitting in a way that is not optimal. Read on to find out how to arrange your child’s reading space.
- Your child's body and posture is involved in the whole process of vision.
Ensure that your child sits at a desk with a proper desk and chair height, so that his feet are flat on the floor and the table is the correct distance from his face. This will enable your child to sit upright. If you notice your child slouching or standing to get a glimpse of the words on the page, it might be an indication that he is experiencing difficulty seeing the text.
- Make sure there is good lighting.
Too much glare or not enough light in a room will force your child's eyes to work harder to see. Make sure that lighting in the room is sufficient for the task whether it is reading or writing.
- Concerned? You can call us.
If you have questions about your child’s reading habits, are concerned about your child’s vision, or if it has been over a year or two since his or her last eye exam, speak to the optometrist.
Follow the tips above and set your child up for success. Wishing everyone happy reading and writing during the school year ahead!