Helping your preschooler to explore their surroundings

Moving around gives your child many more opportunities to understand the world.

They may need extra support to understand concepts such as up, down, in, out, etc. To help your child to understand you can use action rhymes and songs such as ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’, ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ or ‘The hokey cokey’.

Sometimes blind and partially sighted children ‘bottom-shuffle’ instead of crawling, don’t worry. It’s just another way of moving around.


To help your toddler crawl and walk you can:

  • encourage them to crawl by showing them how, moving their hands and feet when they’re on their hands and knees – let them know what you are about to do first
  • stand them at your lap or by your sofa to play with motivating toys
  • encourage stepping and cruising by moving their favourite toys along the sofa
  • let them use a baby walker, pram or brick trolley so that they can build their confidence with less bumps
  • let them walk with their feet on yours, facing outwards, so they can feel you stepping


Once they can walk, it helps if you:

  • tell them where they are, point out doors and corners and let them feel their way from room to room
  • talk about what they can see, hear, smell and touch wherever they are
  • keep furniture in the same place to help them find their way around
  • use touch, smell and sound clues for example a wind chime in the garden
  • ask them to work out which room they are entering, ‘can you hear the bath running?’
  • teach them directions – pat them on the shoulder when saying left or right when turning
  • reassure them and give closer support when they are in a new environment
  • remain calm while they explore independently, only saying ‘stop’ in dangerous situations.
  • encourage them to walk on different surfaces inside and outside the house, such as walking on grass with their bare feet
  • introduce them to slopes and steps

As they get more confident, you can involve them in more activities. These can include things like running, swimming, riding a bike and other sports. Search your local council website to find out what’s available in your area.

Find your local council on GOV.UK

Using a white cane or other mobility aids

If you think your child may need to use a white cane – get advice from your child’s Qualified Teacher of the Vision Impaired (QTVI). They can also advice about encouraging your child’s independence and may introduce you to a Mobility or Habilitation expert.


RSBC’s Family Support Service can help you with:

  • practical advice about your child’s development
  • support when you feel overwhelmed
  • understanding your child’s vision impairment better
  • living as a family and being supportive of each other

Call us on 0203 198 0225 or email


Published: December 2017 

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