Is your child:
Many children report that it is hard for them to copy off the board. It may be that your child has difficulty taking notes or writing down homework assignments that are seen on the board in the classroom.
Sometimes, a child’s eyesight might be tested, finding no problems. However, the child often fails to write down the homework for the night. He or she may regularly complain or cry when asked to copy down notes or to write down a list of instructions from the board.
Perhaps attention to this task in a busy classroom is too much for your child. It can be hard to attend and copy information. This task takes a lot of brain energy and focus, particularly since writing is a cognitively demanding task.
Some children who have these challenges may also have a deficit in processing speed, which can be related to attention and simply means that it takes a child longer to complete a task. When a child works slowly, the pace of the classroom becomes a major source of frustration. Many very bright children struggle with processing speed.
In addition to academic issues, children who struggle with visual tracking may also have a difficult time with playing ball (e.g., playing balloon toss or ball games), reading street signs, drawing, and participating in sports (e.g., baseball).
Clinically, kids who have trouble with copying off the board or with reading could have several specific challenges.
Visual tracking: The term visual tracking means challenges visually following words on a page as you read or an object as it moves through space. For example, the words, “Homework tonight: Math Lesson 3.4 and Spelling list #11” might look like “Mathon 304 list 11.” The child is having trouble seeing the words laid out properly.
Visual sequencing: The term visual sequencing means visually putting things in order or noticing the sequence visually, that is, seeing where the words are and following along with the correct order.
Visual memory is the ability to see something on the board and to remember it long enough to copy it down.
Attention: This issue with memory is likely to be related to attention. Without adequate attention to a task, visual memory will suffer. Often, attention, as mentioned above, may be related to processing speed.
Processing speed: Even very bright children may work slowly. Slow processing speed certainly can impact fluid visual tracking.
Fine motor: Finally, fine motor challenges could be evident, causing the writing to be laborious and effortful. This issue of copying off the board can cause problems as the child moves to upper elementary, middle school, and high school. The copying and writing demands are likely to increase.
If your child struggles with visual tracking, copying from the board and/or fine motor skills, first try a few classroom accommodations. Some potentially helpful accommodations include:
If challenges continue, consider a psychoeducational evaluation to look closely at your child’s learning and processing strengths and weaknesses related to writing, fine motor coordination and attention.
In addition, you can try some strategies at home to increase your child’s abilities (below).
Activities to help strengthen your child’s visual tracking abilities
If your child is struggling with a similar problem, not directly addressed in this section, see the list below for links to information about other related symptom areas.
Children who have significant problems in this area may have any of the following potential disabilities. *Note, this does not serve as a diagnosis in any way. See ‘Where to Go for Help’ section for professionals who can diagnose or provide a referral.
If your child is struggling with this symptom to the point that it is getting in the way of his learning, relationships, or happiness, the following professionals could help; they may offer diagnosis, treatment, or both.
These professionals may recommend or administer the following tests for this symptom:
 Amundson, S., & Schneck, C. (2010). Prewriting and handwriting skills. In Case-Smith, J., & O’Brien, J. (Eds.). Occupational therapy for children (681-711). St. Louis: Mosby.
 Debrabant, Julie; Vingerhoets, Guy; Van Waelvelde, Hilde; Leemans, Alexander; Taymans, Tom; Caeyenberghs, Karen. Brain Connectomics of Visual-Motor Deficits in Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder. The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 169, 21 – 27. e2.
 Trawick-Smith, Jeffrey (2013). Early childhood development: A multicultural perspective.
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