Physical Pilot Program at Carthage Elementary Works to Make Vision Stronger & improve Reading

Physical Pilot Program at Carthage Elementary Works to Make Vision Stronger & improve Reading

Reading is the root of all learning and in Carthage a pilot program is working to improve that ability in students by focusing on their vision.

It looks like playtime in a classroom at Mark Twain elementary.

There’s a game of hopscotch with students shouting out names of colored blocks. They walk a balance beam. And use a stick to touch but not move a ball while reciting spelling words.

This is the vision education program room but the teachers tells the students, it’s like a gym to get a workout for your eyes and brain.

Para-professional Teri Diggs says the physical movement does connect to their vision. She says, “Their brain has to work with their body to get that hand eye coordination but it also gets their brain working. So the brain is working double time to learn their spelling words so they’re able to actually visualize their spelling words in their brains, while they’re using their hands.”

Principal Laurel Rosenthal saw a need for improving kid’s vision. “We had so many children that had trouble with tracking. The vision (eyesight) as we’ve said it can be 20-20, 20-30. That’s not the point. But tracking, we would use little strips of paper underneath to try and keep them.” (focused on their work.)

But Diggs says today’s technology of tablets and computers can lead to underutilized vision and that can lead to eye fatigue in the classroom and then behavior problems.

Diggs says, “Our eyes know that is not a 3D. Our brain knows it’s not a 3D. It’s a 2D screen so our eyes are not developing that near and far and that visual difference.”

Principal Rosenthal says, “If you can’t focus if you can’t stay on the line you’re gonna do other things because you’re not comfortable.”

The program was started by an eye doctor in Springfield. The students spend ten to twelve weeks in the program then they graduate. The teacher says research shows kids making all kinds of progress.

Diggs says, “It’s letting them be much stronger and better readers. It’s showing they are much better at being able to pay attention in the classroom, behavioral issues have gone down.”

Diggs says it’s connecting kids brains and their bodies. Something that used to happen by playing outside but now happening in the classroom

The program is currently targeting first graders. But the principal says if teachers notice an older child having reading trouble he or she can also be helped.