Visual Perceptual Skills in Children

Visual Perceptual Skills in Children

Visual perceptual is a term that refers to how our brain processes information through our eyes to interact with the world around us. Our eyes have a bigger role than just being able to see. They help to take in all the information and:

  • Determine sizes
  • Recognize different shapes and formations of letters
  • Follow patterns
  • Observe the spacing between letters and numbers
  • Pull important information from a busy background
  • “See” part of an object without it being complete

Visual perceptual skills are important so that we can successfully complete daily tasks. As children get older, they can utilize these skills to participate in play, home, sports, and school activities. Without addressing these skills, your child may feel upset or frustrated, which may impact them from completing an activity effectively.

Visual Perceptual Milestones

As a child grows up, the visual-perceptual milestones they should be reaching change and evolve. Below you will find age-appropriate visual perceptual milestones for each age group.

2 ½ years – 3 ½ years, your child should be able to:

  • Match shapes that are similar to each other
  • Complete 3-piece puzzles
  • Sort different shapes from each other
  • Recall a few things from the pictures
  • Draw vertically, horizontally, and in a circle

3 ½  – 4 ½ years, your child should be able to:

  • Complete 4-5 piece puzzles
  • Recognize the difference in shape sizes
  • Recognize the entirety of an image with only half presented
  • Identify what objects are similar or not similar to each other
  • Draw a cross
  • Trace lines

4 ½  years – 5 ½ years, your child should be able to:

  • Identify differences in shape sizes (largest to smallest)
  • Sort objects by shape, size, color
  • Match letters
  • Draw a square
  • Cut a circle and square out of paper
  • Connect dots with a straight line

 5 ½ years – 6 years, your child should be able to:

  • Complete interlocking puzzles (10-12 pieces)
  • Understand the difference between upper and lower case letters
  • Color between lines

Difficulties in Visual Perceptual Skills

If a child experiences difficulty with visual perceptual skills, there are a number of tasks and milestones that they may not be able to complete. Below is a list of tasks or areas where a child may experience issues:

  • Understanding the difference between letters, numbers, words
  • Cutting on the right line during school activities
  • Understanding that letters, numbers, and shapes are similar even when rotated
  • Recognizing the difference between letters, numbers, and symbols in different fonts
  • Knowing the difference between upper and lower case letters
  • Trouble copying shapes from pictures
  • Finding objects in spaces (toy boxes, bins)
  • Copying words from the board on a page
  • Difficulty remembering to follow an order of steps
  • Creating a line on a page
  • Drawing shapes
  • Writing name and words on a line
  • Understanding directional terms (up, down, across, behind, between, forward)
  • Following the formation of letters (starting at the top and then the bottom)
  • Reading from left to right

We can help!

If you see that your child is having trouble with any of these skills listed above, contact one of our Pediatric Occupational Therapists to help you further answer questions or address concerns. Visit our website for location information or to request an appointment online,

The medical information contained herein is provided as an information resource only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultation with healthcare professionals. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. IvyRehab Network, Inc. disclaims any and all responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained herein.

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