Time flies, especially when your child has daily vision therapy activities to perform. My teenage son Sam recently began vision therapy, and it’s made me realize just how difficult it can be to schedule those daily activities. I decided to compile some tips for keeping vision therapy on track.
In many ways, I equate vision therapy to the process an author follows when writing a book. In “On Writing,” Stephen King advises aspiring authors to write a minimum of 1,000 words a day. Following that formula, you’ll have completed a first draft of a book in roughly eight months.
Because typical vision therapy cases can range from 1-9 months, you and your child can follow a similar approach. You will achieve positive gains, but you have to be persistent and do your therapy on a regular basis. Here are some ways to keep you on track:
1. Set up designated days. We’re all incredibly busy, so the more structure built into your schedule, the better. For Sam, we started out by first identifying the number of days he would need to do vision therapy. We then identified the days of the week in which it would work best for his schedule.
2. Use the weekends – save the week for school. Most kids are bombarded with homework, and the workload can get particularly burdensome in high school. Thus, we decided to designate the two weekend days for vision therapy.
No one wants to work on the weekends, but with the added flexibility those days afford, you can more easily fit in your activities, which lightens the burden the rest of the week.
3. Do vision therapy first. Sam does his vision therapy first, before his homework. Unless he has a critical test that can’t be missed, we have him take care of his vision therapy activities upfront. If you’re structured and focused, knowing there is more homework to be done, the activities will be much more efficient.
4. Do vision therapy first on the WEEKENDS. Ok, if you follow my suggestion and do your therapy on the weekend, be sure it’s also one of the first things your child does. Why?
Because weekends tend to be unstructured, and when you’ve got all that free time at your disposal, it’s easy to say, “I’ll do it later.” The next thing you know, you’re going to a movie. Then you’re out to eat. Then you’re visiting friends. Suddenly, “later” is too late. So get it out of the way ASAP.
5. Work with your school. Some educators aren’t familiar with vision therapy (be sure to send them the link to this article and encourage them to download our Vision and Learning Guide if they’re not.) Work with them and get their support to make it easier for your child to do activities.
You may be able to work with a teacher or counselor who could provide some assistance performing the activities in school. This will work best with a child who can do the activities independently, and may only need some help with ball and cap or brock string, for example. For parents of young children, I know this isn’t always an option.
6. Keep track on a calendar. I think it’s extremely helpful to use a calendar not only to remind you when to do vision therapy, but to also indicate when it’s been completed. From the old school wall-hanging calendar, to an online Google calendar, you can schedule the daily activity session and then indicate when they’ve been completed.
This serves two purposes: First, you’ll be able to accurately report to your therapist when you’ve completed the sessions. Second, you’ll be able to remember if you did the activities for a day, as it’s incredibly easy to forget.
7. Remind your child that hard work results in getting done sooner. One of the carrots I use with Sam is to constantly remind him that the harder he works, the sooner he’ll be done with vision therapy.
This might be harder to pull off with a smaller child, but it definitely helps with a teenager who would rather hang with his friends than work on the brock string.
8. Micromanage. This may appeal more to parents of older patients, but the message is simple: You need to really keep track of how often your child does vision therapy. It’s human nature for a child to not want to do schoolwork, and this really feels like schoolwork.
Even though my son is a willing participant and believes vision therapy will help him, he still forgets about the therapy sometimes. Don’t rely on their independence 100 percent.
These are tips that may appeal more to parents of older children, but I think structuring your schedule like this can help younger children as well. Do you have any thoughts on how to keep children on schedule? If so, please leave us a comment below!