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Bringing Back Old Fashioned Games

With each passing year I notice more children in the class are slow readers or even non readers.  And each passing year I notice how the children are less physically active than they used to be.  At Show and Tell time they often talk about their latest x box or computer game, and their classmates are intensely interested in every aspect of the game, which level the child is up to etc.

I know from my reading that slow scanning is due to underdevelopment of the cerebellum and that certain physical activities can create the neural pathways necessary for fluent reading.  These activities are similar to what is done with stroke patients and astronauts returned from space missions.  Typically, they involve balancing in different ways eg crawling on all fours, hopping and tracking hand movements from one side of the body to the other.

A couple of weeks ago I was having a late night coffee out with one of my ex parents who is a friend of mine and we were talking about learning problems as a product of brain development.  And she suggested that maybe one of the reasons more and more children are struggling with reading is because less and less children play the sorts of games that we used to play as kids - games that were so good for developing neural pathways.

So I decided today to introduce some old fashioned games to my class:  marbles, hopscotch, stocking ball games and elastics.  The children had heard of some of these games but no-one knew how to play them.  I had to teach them, including the rhymes that go with them.

I am going to be interested to see if their interest in the old fashioned games lasts and whether, over a period of time, it helps to improve their reading skills.
perseverer perseverer 51-55, F 6 Responses Jun 5, 2012

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Playing such games also allow for hand eye co-ordination to develop, and the child also develop the art of teamwork too!

Exactly!

I wish you best of luck in this. I am afraid that an administrator will tell you to stop because it is not standards ba<x>sed.<br />
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We had recess every hour on the hour. We played games and had fun. Now it seems that any competitive activity is frowned upon.

Oh dear! You might well be right, though hopefully in our independent school it won't be so tightly controlled. Children these days are far too into technology and lack knowledge of and skills in more active games which is what I am on about. i.e. getting them away from being couch potatoes!

Thank you, Dex, for your comment. I was thinking of you when I wrote this story. We have exactly the same idea when it comes to helping children's learning difficulties with a programme of physical activities that involve balancing skills. These sorts of exercises such as the ones you did with circus skills create neural pathways in the brain. It takes about a year, I believe, for the effects to show, but the change can be quite dramatic.

Fantastic idea, perseverer! <br />
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Like Raiofsunshine, I would be most interested to see whether your children's reading improves over time.<br />
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When my son was in year one I helped his teacher with other kids in the class who were slow/non-readers and had a similar view of the connection between their poor reading skills and the loss of traditional playground games, in favour of electronic games that seemed to exercise only their thumbs. I used to take several of the slower readers into the playground for some introductory juggling lessons, which seemed to help.<br />
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I think You may be onto something important with your idea of teaching the rhymes that accompany many of those "old" games.

Thank you for reading and caring to leave a comment. Yes, it is a great sadness that so many children nowadays are tech heads and couch potatoes. It was fascinating watching them learnings the old games I used to play today - they were right into it!

I'd be interested too to see if it has any effect on their reading skills. The kids nowadays don't seem to know how to really play. They certainly know how to operate gadgets though!