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  • Writer's pictureDr. V.S. Gayathri

5 Amazing Activities To Develop Visual Attention In Kids!

Seeing things and being visually attentive are two different things. Attention to visual information involves visual processing that is more than just focusing on a task or learning activity. Attention and awareness of visual information is a skill that is important for noticing details, adjusting to patterns, reading, and more.


Visual processing is a concept that includes the cognitive components, once visual information is received through ocular skills and visual keenness.

Attention to visual information is an area of obtaining visual information and communicating that information with the brain. This requires visual tracking and visual scanning as well.

Visual attention refers to the cognitive processes that allow us to selectively process the vast amount of information we are confronted with every day.


1.) Alertness- It is the watchful and attentive manner of being ready and responsive to visual information. It requires focused vision and keenness to a specific object or area.

2.) Selective Attention- The ability to notice and process specific information while disregarding other, less relevant information is selective attention.

3.) Surrounding Attention- This refers to the awareness of our body position and the environment happening around us, including distance, that impacts attention at large.

4.) Mindful Alertness- This is the ability to be mindful and aware of visual input with a concentrated effort.

5.) Shared Attention- This allows us to shift focus between visual input. This can involve filtering unnecessary information.

Visual attention is closely linked to learning and memory. Memories are units of experience that accumulate over time and build intricate knowledge structures. There are various studies that indicate that infants learn and remember what they see. And, visual attention plays a big role here. Another important aspect of their growth and development is visual perception.


Vision Perception is the ability to interpret, analyze, and give meaning to what we see. These skills help us recognize and integrate visual stimuli with previously stored data to form a stable, predictable, familiar world. In other words, vision perception allows us to understand, not just see.

Visual attention is the ability to take in important visual information while filtering out the rest. It is also the ability to focus on visual information for periods of time and shift focus when necessary.

Visual perception is the ability to perceive and understand the information you see. It is the processing of visual information at an acceptable speed.


If your child has trouble actually seeing things as in if he/she needs glasses to see better this is NOT the same thing as visual attention or visual processing.

Some examples of the lack of visual attention and/or visual processing include:

  • not recognizing differences in shapes, letters or numbers

  • consistently writing shapes, letters or numbers incorrectly (after the age of 7)

  • consistently reading letters, numbers or words incorrectly (after the age of 7)

  • having trouble repeating a pattern – even while looking at it

  • having a hard time remembering what was just seen

  • difficulty with copy work

  • difficulty with reading and/or spelling

  • having trouble staying in the lines when writing or doing mazes

  • difficulty identifying an object when only parts of it can be seen

  • difficulty locating a specific image when the image is surrounded by other images

  • even bumping into things frequently when walking

Here are 5 simple activities to develop visual cognitive kids in small kids.

1. What’s Missing?

You can place 10-20 items on a tray and cover it with a towel. You can choose their favorite food items or toys to make it more fun. Take the towel off and give your child 10-20 seconds to look at the items on the tray. Then, cover it once again. Then, ask your child to name as many of the items as they remember.

You can then secretly remove one or more items from the tray. Take the towel off the tray and ask your child to figure out which items are missing.

2. Tic-Tac-Toe

The good old game of tic-tac-toe is great for visual cognitive skills. Make it even exciting by playing it with the grid only – no written x’s or o’s. For example, you and your child only point to the grid to “add” x or o and not actually write it. In this way, you add another layer of visual attention to the game.

3. Whiteboard Copy work

You draw something on a whiteboard, then your child draws the exact same thing – paying attention to each and every detail. You can draw pictures, letters, words, sentences, math facts, etc. The goal is to gradually add more detail so that your child has to visually process more at one time.

4. Picture Study

Give your child a picture and ask them to look closely for 30 seconds at all the details. Then, take it away and ask one or more questions based on the content of the image.

· What colors or shapes did you see?

· Who were the characters? What were they doing?

· Did you notice a time of day or season?

· What was the artist trying to portray through the picture?

· Make up a story about the picture.

5. b d p q Tracking Sheets

The bd and pq confusion is noticed in many kids at an early age. The b d p q discrimination worksheets can help as a quick and easy brain training activity for visual attention processing. You can ask your child to circle all the p's or d's.

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