Parent's Preschool Visual Development Checklist

Dear Parent,

Your child’s visual readiness for school starts developing on the day of birth. Every moment of visual experience is a part of the practice and organization which will prepare your child for the visual load of the classroom. This checklist has been prepared by developmental optometrists (behavioral optometrists) and informed educators to help you assure your child of the success and pleasure available in all the academic years that lie ahead.


• Unusual redness of eyes
• Unusual redness of lids
• Crusted eyelids
• Styes, or sores, on lids
• Excessive tearing
• Unusual lid droopiness
• One eye turns in or out with fatigue


• Excessive rubbing of eyes
• Avoids bright light
• Keeps eyes closed too much of the time


Birth to 6 weeks of age

• Stares at surrounding when awake
• Momentarily holds gaze on bright light or bright object
• Blinks at camera flash
• Eyes and head move together
•One eye may seem turned in at times

8 weeks to 24 weeks

• Eyes begin to move more widely with less head movement
• Eyes begin to follow moving objects or people (8-12 weeks)
• Watches parent’s face when being talked to (10-12 weeks)
• Begins to watch own hands (12-16 weeks)
• Eyes move in active inspection of surroundings (18-20 weeks)
• While sitting, looks at hands, food, bottle (18-24 weeks)
• Now looking for, and watching more distant objects (20-28 weeks)

30 weeks to 48 weeks

• Visually inspects toys he can hold (38-40 weeks)
• Looks for toys he drops (32-38 weeks)
• Watches activities around him for longer periods of time (30-36 weeks)
• Eyes more mobile and move with little head movement (30-36 weeks)
• May turn eyes inward while inspecting hands or toy (28-32 weeks)
• Creeps after favorite toy when seen (40-44 weeks)
• Sweeps eyes around room to see what’s happening (44-48 weeks)
• Visually responds to smiles and voice of others (40-48 weeks)
• More and more visual inspection of objects and persons (46-52 weeks)

12 months to 18 months

• Looks for and identifies pictures in books (16-18 months)
• Points to objects or people using words “look” or “see” (14-18 months)
• Often holds objects very close to eyes to inspect (14-18 months)
• Visually interested in simple pictures (14-16 months)
• Now using both hands and visually steering hand activity (12-14 months)

24 months to 36 months

• “Reads” pictures in books (34-38 months)
• Can now begin to keep coloring on the paper (34-38 months)
• Watches and imitates other children (30-36 months)
• Visually explores and steers own walking and climbing (30-36 months)
• Watches own hand while scribbling (26-30 months)
• Likes to watch movement of wheels, egg beater, etc. (24-28 months)
• Smiles, facial brightening when views favorite objects and people (20-24 months)
• Occasionally visually inspects without needing to touch (20-24 months)

40 months to 48 months

Can close eyes on request, and may be able to wink one eye (46-50 months)
Draws and names circle and cross on paper (40-44 months)
Brings head and eyes close to page of book while inspecting (40-44 months)

4 years to 5 years

• Visually alert and observant of surroundings
• Passes all the tests described in Important Observation Parents Can Make
• Can place small objects in small openings
• Copies simple forms and some letters
• Cuts and pastes quite well on simple pictures
• Colors within lines
• Draws and names pictures
• Moves and rolls eyes in an expressive way
• Uses eyes and hands together well and in increasing skill
• Shows increasing visual interest in new objects and place
• Tells about places, objects, or people seen elsewhere


All the age ranges given above are approximate. Lags of a week or so are not unusual, but any definite developmental delay or non-performance should be given every necessary attention. The performances listed above are important. All are preparatory to school readiness and are visual skills which are essential to lifetime activities.

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