While reading, tracking across the page from one line to the next can be tricky when the text is small, but for students with dyslexia or weak reading skills, it can be a problem regardless of the font size. So why is this the case? Perhaps one of the problems is poor tracking skills.
What Exactly is Tracking?
Tracking is the ability for one's eyes to move smoothly across the page from one line of text to another. Tracking difficulties happen when eyes jump backward and forward and struggle to stay on a single line of text. This results in problems such as word omissions, reversals, eye fatigue, losing your place while reading and most importantly it can impact normal reading development.
Can Tracking be Improved?
Tracking can be improved by strengthening eye muscles as well as getting your eyes and brain to work cooperatively. There are three eye movements that need to be developed:
- Fixations: The ability to hold one's eyes steady without moving off a target.
- Saccades: The ability to jump to new targets that randomly disappear and reappear in a different location.
- Pursuits: The ability to follow a moving target with one's eyes
- Use Beeline Reader to read ebooks, PDFs and web pages will assist with tracking. This free technology makes tracking faster and easier by using a color gradient to guide your eyes from one line of text to another.
- Play ping pong - but more importantly, watch others play the game. Sit on the side of the table and keep your head steady. Watch the ball, moving your eyes back and forth across the table.
- Get a book but only read the first word and the last word in each line. Continue down the page. Time yourself and try to beat your speed. If reading words is slow or labored, just read the first and last letter on each line.
- Go to the site Eye Can Learn and do their eye-tracking exercises.
- Watch a metronome or crystal pendulum. Place the metronome or pendulum about 1-2 feet from your face, keep your head steady and move your eyes with the swinging metronome or pendulum.
- Use a laser pointer on a wall and watch the red dot while sweeping it across the wall: go up, down, left, right and diagonally.
- Use Apps like Dream Reader which will highlight the words while it reads the text. You can read along with the excellent synthesized voice options, or if you prefer, read the text yourself and turn off the audio. Adjust the speed so that words are highlighted while you read.
- Pick a common letter of the alphabet such as the letter "A." Select a book, or article and scan through the lines of text as if you are reading, circling the letter "A" every time they see it.
- Read aloud. This helps the eyes and brain to work together.
- Play an internet version of Pong. My favorite is Garfield Tabby Tennis.
- Watch my Youtube Video:
Are There Any Products I Can Purchase That Develop Visual Tracking?
Yes, check out my:
- Visual Tracking Assessment and Activities for Improved Learning
- Building Peripheral Vision, Visual Tracking, and Visual Attention for Improved Reading and Scanning
- Visual Reasoning and Tracking Activities
- Reversing Reversals series to develop elementary tracking as well as other important visual processing and cognitive skills that will improve the foundation abilities needed to be an excellent reader.
If you found this post helpful, come check out my other blog post entitled: 5 Free Ways Improve Visual Processing for Weak Readers.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
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