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Supporting physical development in early childhood
Supporting physical development in early childhood

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2.2 Vision

Many of us take our sight for granted, but human vision is a complex process.

To focus on something, or to ‘see’, the eye detects images through light reflecting off objects, which travels onto the curved part of your eye called the retina. The retina sends messages to the brain, which recognises and interprets visual stimuli through comparison with experiences made earlier in life. This means that young babies must ‘learn’ to see.

A labelled human eye.
Figure 6 The human eye

Children’s learning is supported by their developing visual skills. From shortly after conception to the end of the first year, babies’ eyes continue to develop. Newborn babies do not have good vision; only objects at about 25–30 cm away are in focus, about the distance between a mother’s breast and her face; everything else is a blur.

During the first few months babies begin to understand facial expression and recognise the facial features of their parents and carers. By four months most babies begin to see things more clearly, and during the first few years most children will begin to notice fine details in an environment or picture, notice similarities and differences and make sense of things that are only partly visible.

However, some children have visual impairments and may require some additional support to be physically active.