Students sharpening basic skills, thanks to Niles Service League donation

Published 3:09 pm Tuesday, May 25, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Most kids would love to hear that activities like playing catch and doing somersaults will translate into improved school performance.
That is a basis behind a program at Northside Child Development Center that focuses on practicing simple motor activities like these to positively impact how a child learns.
The perceptual-motor development program, which is new to Northside this year, follows research that indicates developmental experiences at a young age can help children to hone basic school skills like reading, writing and speech.
Equipment like balance beams, a rebounding net used to play catch and small scooters are used to help develop hand-eye coordination, hand-foot coordination, body and space awareness and balance.
A recent donation from the Niles Service League helped to fund much of the equipment that is now found in the school's gymnasium.
Northside principal Cindy Wickham said the program, which is unique to the school, can help kids to work on motor skills, which are a necessary step in the process of learning.
Northside teacher Kathy Hartsell, who is responsible for developing the program and instructing the children in the activities, pointed out that there is a small window of opportunity for learning these skills.
Hartsell leads groups of students through the gymnasium from activity to activity on a daily basis. She frequently cycles in new equipment to allow for different developmental experiences.
The program was developed by integrating different sources of information including Jack Capon's perceptual motor research and Paul Dennison's "Brain Gym."
Hartsell is pleased with the effectiveness of the program this year and looks forward to watching how the program will help to encourage growth from year to year.