Learning through play

Vision has a very important role in your baby’s early years development. Children learn by copying what they see others do, they observe how people interact and watch to see how something responds to their actions. Vision also encourages mobility by providing the motivation to move towards an interesting object, and is helpful for learning new skills like finger feeding.

If your child has a vision impairment, they may need to learn and explore the world in a slightly different way. Sensory activities and learning through play can help your child gain confidence, achieve their milestones and understand the world. 

Helping your child with a vision impairment develop through play 

Why is play important for my child?

Play is fundamental to your child's development, especially in the early years. Play helps your child to develop movement, communication skills and an understanding of the world around them. It motivates children to explore and interact with objects and people, building their confidence and sense of self. Through play, children develop the practical skills they need such as: communication skills, fine and gross motor skills and language development.

What is habilitation?

If you have received support from your local authority or Guide Dogs, you might have heard of habilitation. Guide Dogs’ habilitation specialists support families, carers and nurseries by encouraging everyone involved with your child to feel confident in how to provide the specific support that your child needs. Habilitation covers a wide range of skills and activities, always with your child at the centre. We provide individualised support including learning through play and sensory activities for babies, toddlers and young children. Our specialist support helps to reduce the impact of sensory impairment in children, and maximises their social inclusion by focusing on key development areas such as early movement, social and communication skills and early self-help.

Free online resources for learning through play

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

The activities cover five key development areas and can easily be done at home, using everyday items. The five development areas are:

Safety first

Before starting any of the activities in the online resources, please read the following: 

1. These activities are designed for children aged 0-4 years old who are blind or partially sighted.

2. Please supervise your child at all times during the activity.

3. Please ensure the floor is clean and clutter free, checking the room for trip, slip or fall hazards.

4. Please ensure you have adequate space to carry out the activities.

5. Please regularly check any equipment used for wear and tear and follow manufactures instruction.

6. Please use materials, equipment or toys as per manufacturers guidelines.

7. Please be aware that any items named in the activities are suggestions only and if you deem these items not suitable for your child’s age, stage or safety, then do not use it.

8. Please stop any activity if your child becomes unwell, upset or you’re unsure whether the activity is being completed correctly. 

For more tips on making your home safer for your child, please see our home safety advice.

Frequently asked questions

Eliza sitting on her mum's lap while banging a toy drum

Develop your child's mobility skills and independence 

Guide Dogs My Time to Play programme helps children with a visual impairment develop a range of skills to improve their mobility and encourage independence.