A lot of children's learning is largely dependent on their vision. It has been estimated that vision plays a significant role in 80% of all learning in school.
While we commonly think about the difficulties in a classroom in terms of 20/20, meaning if the child cannot see the board at 20 feet away clearly, then they will have difficulty in school. The truth is that vision is much more complex than just seeing 20 feet away, and perhaps even more importantly, classroom performance is much more dependent on other aspects of vision than 20/20 visual acuity. According to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, there are 11 different visual skills used in the classroom. For example if a child has difficulty keeping their eyes aligned when reading, then they will either noticeably struggle to read, or alternatively become so distracted by the effort to see what they read that they don’t have energy to understand what they are reading. Learn more about learning-related vision problems.
Knowing that vision is so essential in the classroom, it is easy to understand that when a child struggles with a particular aspect of their vision, they can struggle with their confidence as well.
The truth is that it is even more important than just that aspect. In many instances a child does not realize that their issue is a vision issue, so instead of thinking “I have a problem with tracking or eye alignment and therefore I struggle with reading” they think “I am not smart like the other kids in my class”.
It is not uncommon for kids not to realize they are having trouble seeing. It's tricky to have your own perception of what's going on and never know anything different. Once the kid has lenses in or has improved an aspect of their visual function through vision therapy, they look through the visual system and finally understand that this was how it's supposed to look. Often they have this “AHA moment” where they finally realize that the struggles they have in the classroom are a result of a vision challenge and not a flaw in their capabilities as a person. It is one of the most rewarding parts of vision therapy, the child, parent, therapist, and eye doctor, when a child regains their sense of confidence and becomes an empowered person.
Another incredibly rewarding aspect of vision therapy is the empowerment that it gives a child. Many children have never had the experience of knowing they have something that they need to improve on, and then tackling that challenge head on. In therapy a child is challenged at the level of their difficulty, they work hard during their therapy sessions as well as every day on their take home exercises. At the end of therapy we see a different child, one who has a sense of self sufficiency, a knowledge that they overcame a major obstacle through hard work. That is one of the most rewarding aspects of vision therapy.
A child's renewed self-confidence and their excitement in expressing new skills are among the most satisfying aspects of enhancing their visual skills. An improved sense of self-worth has just as great a developmental impact as new visual skills. Therefore, it's important whether you think your child has a vision problem or not to get them checked so they don't fall through the cracks and struggle with confidence.