Early years development and habilitation

If your child has a vision impairment, they’ll need to learn about and explore the world in a slightly different way. We’re here to support you and your child develop the practical skills and confidence to do just that. 

Our specialist Habilitation Service can help your child develop a wide range of skills, with the focus on key early years development areas such as early movement, self-help practical skills (including feeding and dressing), and social and communication skills.

Guide Dogs My Time to Play

Guide Dogs My Time to Play is for children aged 0-4 with a vision impairment and their parents, carers and siblings. It’s a free service delivered by Qualified Habilitation Specialists that helps children with a vision impairment develop a broad range of skills through play.

If your child has a vision impairment, they may need to learn about and explore the world in a slightly different way. Habilitation is a specialist support that recognises those differences. Working with you we can help your child develop confidence and practical skills towards independence from an early age.

If you would prefer to watch the video without audio description, there is a non-described version here rather than the accessible one above.

I was really excited because I was looking forward to meeting other parents with VI children. The first session was Ruby and a little boy and it was so good just talking to his mum - someone who knows what I’m going through, all the appointments and how you’ve got to watch them all the time. It was really lovely and I’ve kept in touch with her. 
Magdalena, Ruby's mum

What do the sessions involve?

My Time to Play is a programme of fun and supportive small group sessions, led by our Habilitation Specialists. Each session typically includes activities of music and movement, sensory play, crafts and stories. All designed to support your child’s development.

Where do sessions take place and how long do they last?

There are two ways for you and your child to attend the My Time to Play sessions, either in-person or virtually.

Our two-hour in-person sessions are held in community venues across the UK. You’ll get to meet other families with similar experiences and support your child in developing confidence and social skills while playing with other children.

Our virtual group sessions give you the flexibility to attend My Time to Play from your own home. This may appeal to you if you don’t live near to one of our community sessions. The virtual sessions run on a weekly basis for 7 weeks, with each session lasting up to 1 hour.

We’ve now had seven My Time to Play sessions, and we both love it! I can’t recommend it highly enough for any parents of kids with a vision impairment. When Henry first arrives at a My Time to Play session he’s really happy. As soon as he gets there he runs off and starts pulling and touching things, whereas usually he can be hesitant. I’d highly recommend joining My Time to Play to other parents of children with a vision impairment – it’s been so helpful.
Laura, Henry's mum

How do I join?

To find out more about My Time to Play in your local area, complete our online enquiry form and someone from our team will contact you. Alternatively, you can call our Guide Line on 0800 781 1444 and a member of the team will take your details.

Professional referrals

We also welcome referrals from professionals. Simply complete our online enquiry form or contact Guide Line on 0800 781 1444. Please ensure you have the parents consent beforehand.

Other support and resources 

In addition to My Time to Play, we also have Learning Through Play resources, that will give ideas on how you can support your child’s development , as well as a song book full of popular children’s rhymes and songs with guided actions and movements.

Frequently asked questions

Mother and baby doing actions with their hands

Teach your child with a vision impairment more about how they move through song and dance. Our collection of nursery rhymes include all the classics with fun actions!

A young boy with a visual impairment playing with a sensory toy

We’ve developed free online resources containing information, guidance and activities to help support your child's early years development through play.