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Learn about how tamariki develop their vision and hearing and the signs to look out for if they aren't developing as they should be.

Hearing and vision are checked at all Well Child/Tamariki Ora health checks from birth to 5 years old. It’s important that any issues are picked up and addressed early.

Well Child Tamariki Ora visits | Tākai

A child’s language development and ability to communicate, make themselves understood and relate to others all depend on them hearing and seeing well. Their general development and wellbeing can be adversely affected by problems with hearing and vision.

Developing visual skills

Tamariki learn to use their visual skills by using their eyes in everyday activities, especially play. A well-rounded play experience will provide practice in a number of developing skills including throwing and catching, drawing, finger painting, cutting, pasting and card games. In fact, any of the activities in this resource are opportunities to use their eyes and hands together.

This means not too much time spent staring at screens, but instead being outdoors playing, climbing and riding bikes, all of which contribute to the development of visual skills and co-ordination.

Playing with other children and being read to are other ways to ensure their eyes and brains are always working together.

If te tamaiti is having vision problems, whānau might notice them:

  • squinting
  • needing to sit close to the TV
  • holding a book too close
  • rubbing their eyes
  • experiencing sensitivity to light.

If te tamaiti is having hearing problems, whānau might notice them:

  • not responding when called or spoken to
  • having difficulty with producing certain sounds
  • talking too loudly
  • mispronouncing many words
  • being inattentive or unsettled.

Reading about pre-schoolers’ communication

Take a look at ‘Supporting baby’s communication skills’ in the 7–12 months section as it reminds us about the role that hearing and vision play in the development of language. The Group Programme also has plenty of reading relating to the development of communication in young children:

If there are concerns about a child’s vision or hearing, whānau can contact their family doctor or Well Child/Tamariki Ora nurse for support. Screening for vision problems is also part of the B4 School Check, which happens at around 4 years of age.

Other resources

Hearing and vision checks for preschool children | KidsHealth (external link)

About the B4 School Check | Ministry of Health(external link)

Preschool vision: 3 to 5 years of age | American Optometric Association(external link)