Written by: Kara Baskin
Most of your child’s learning happens at home, especially when they’re babies and toddlers. Their learning is “incidental” — meaning it occurs spontaneously, during the course of a normal day. Babies learn how to grab a spoon by watching you eat. They smile in response to yours.
Children with CVI sometimes miss out on incidental learning opportunities due to their vision. Vision encourages the curiosity to explore and inspires the motivation to be independent. For example, babies who see their older sibling walking want to walk.
The good news: You can equip your home and design a daily routine to maximize incidental learning opportunities. You guessed it: This includes creating an optimal setting for early intervention (EI). Often, your EI providers are happy to help with this process.
Easy ways to prepare your home for Early Intervention
EI usually takes place in your home. Happily, this is where your child probably feels safest and most relaxed—and familiarity leads to better learning outcomes and more confidence.
As such, kids with CVI tend to do best with minimal visual clutter. More visual stimuli means that your child’s brain needs to work harder to focus. A minimalistic, comfortable space with familiar items in consistent places will help your child thrive.
Here are some helpful ideas for organizing your home and playtime
- Add pops of your child’s favorite colors to draw visual attention. Bright colors and high contrast often work best during activities like tummy time.
- Create a blank wall to face during tasks where focusing is important.
- Decorate your baby’s room with a moving object, like a pinwheel. Often, motion can elicit visual attention.
- Incorporate familiar household items into natural routines and play: cups, pots, pans, spoons, toothbrushes, socks, et cetera. Allow for plenty of time for tactile exploration of objects during daily routines.
- Incorporate pops of your child’s favorite textures (soft, furry, scratchy) throughout their play area. (Many parents love using carpet squares for sensory stimulation!)
- Keep toys, utensils, and other everyday objects in consistent, easily reachable spots so your child can develop habits and a routine.
- Look for toys with strong contours and shapes, which are easily recognizable by touch and feel.
- Space out toys and objects so they’re easily detectable, instead of stacking or stashing.
For even more great ideas, we love the list over at Everyday CVI.
Everyday objects to support your child’s routine
CVI hacks! We all love them. Here’s inspiration for some easy-to-find items that may make life just a little bit easier. Best of all, you might already even have some of these things at home. Repurposing is key!
- A black silicone mat for play or eating
- Non-patterned, plain-colored sheets or blankets to place over cluttered bookshelves, on a busy patterned rug or surfaces
- A black sports visor to reduce overhead fluorescent lighting (keep one in your car and in your bag!)
- Book stands to use as slant boards, and a black magnet board to place on the stands
- Bump dots for to add tactile markers and support
- Clear plastic shoe boxes to organize toys while keeping them visible or opaque bins to hide clutter
- Hand-held flashlights for focusing in dark spaces, such as restaurants
- Magnetic letters for easy, 3-D manipulation during literacy activities
- Plastic trays for sensory play
- Painters or mylar tape in several colors to support recognition and visual motor skills, especially at the beginnings and ends of stairs, on light switches, and atop faucets.. Highly saturated colors may help elicit visual attention and support visual recognition.
- Shallow food bowls for easy scooping, in solid colors
- Plates with dividers to support your child in knowing what food is where
- Transparent numbers or shapes for the light box, with raised edges
- Tupperware tumblers with lids in mix-and-match colors, for visual contrast
All stocked up? Now learn about how to address visual skill development within play-based activities and natural routines.
Find more resources and helpful information on the CVI Now Early Intervention Series home page.