Test opens path­way to re­sults

A child may need glasses

South Waikato News - - EDUCATION -

Lucy Howard’s jour­ney from poor reader to star pupil started with a sim­ple eye test, some­thing many Kiwi par­ents are ne­glect­ing to do as the new school year ap­proaches.

Ed­u­ca­tors are warn­ing par­ents that un­di­ag­nosed vi­sion prob­lems amongst young chil­dren can lead to poor school re­sults and low self es­teem and are urg­ing Kiwi par­ents to in­clude an eye test for their chil­dren as part of their back to school prepa­ra­tions.

When six-year-old Lucy started school her par­ents weren’t too concerned that she seemed to be in the lower half of her class for read­ing. As her first year pro­gressed and her read­ing level didn’t their con­cern in­creased.

A friend sug­gested they get Lucy’s eyes checked and the re­sults were im­me­di­ate.

Twelve months on and Lucy has just been awarded her school’s 2010 ‘Jack Oliver award for Ef­fort’.

Her fa­ther, Martin Howard is keen to en­cour­age other par­ents of chil­dren in their first years of school to get their eyes tested sooner rather than later.

‘‘The im­prove­ment we’ve seen is as much about her con­fi­dence so­cially as it has been about her aca­demic im­prove­ment and this sets the foun­da­tion for her fu­ture school years. Luck­ily, with the in­tro­duc­tion of Spec­savers to New Zealand, the cost of chil­dren’s glasses has come down sig­nif­i­cantly so we don’t need to worry about los­ing glasses as she now has two pairs,’’ he said.

Short sight­ed­ness or My­opia, which is in­creas­ingly com­mon amongst chil­dren, is one of the key rea­sons why many chil­dren find it hard to read the black­board at school. The tell tale signs of My­opia are screw­ing up the eyes to see dis­tant ob­jects, dif­fi­culty read­ing the black­board at school and sit­ting very close to the tele­vi­sion.

‘‘Un­di­ag­nosed vi­sion prob­lems can be a real set-back for chil­dren start­ing school and can im­pact both their aca­demic progress and their con­fi­dence, Lucy is a prime ex­am­ple,’’ said Faranak Saidi, year 2 Syn­di­cate Leader, Corn­wall Park District School, Auck­land. Spec­savers has put to­gether some hints and tips on how par­ents can spot if their child may need glasses:

Squint­ing – If your child’s teacher says they fre­quently squint at the board, they may be try­ing to com­pen­sate for their poor vi­sion.

Sit­ting too close to the tele­vi­sion – Short-sighted chil­dren gen­er­ally have clear vi­sion at a close range and poor vi­sion at a dis­tance.

Rub­bing eyes and headaches – If your child rubs their eyes ex­ces­sively or com­plains of headaches reg­u­larly, it may mean they’re strain­ing their eye mus­cles.

Read­ing prob­lems – Chil­dren who fre­quently skip lines or lose their place while read­ing books may have vi­sion as­so­ci­ated prob­lems.

LOOK­ING UP: An eye test may be the key to im­prov­ing your child’s per­for­mance in school, as it was for Lucy Howard.

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