Riverview Elementary 4K student Cennedy Swen demonstrates the Popcorn hold during a recent class. This SMART activity helps to stimulate the inner ear and brings hands to the midline.

Wautoma School Board introduced to Riverview Pre-K SMART Program

Riverview Elementary 4K teachers Connie Coron and Kelly Miller gave a presentation on SMART (Stimulating Maturity through Accelerated Readiness Training) to the Wautoma Area School Board during their regular meeting on Monday, March 13, at Riverview Elementary School.

Last June, Riverview Principal Ann Fajfer sent the 4K and early education teachers to a three-day training to learn the multi-sensory approach to learning, which includes visual readiness, auditory readiness, balance, fine motor and gross motor skills, and are essential for classroom and academic success.

In their presentation to the board, Coron and Miller highlighted some of the activities they do to strengthen the students’ reflexes, vision, balance and coordination. Some of the reflex activities the students take part in stimulates the inner ear and strengthens the core to help build voluntary muscle movements.

The balance and vestibular activities the 4K students participate in include the pencil roll and helicopter spins to work on controlling their bodies. Coron and Miller also have the students practice standing on one foot to develop balance, practice heal to toe walking on a balance beam heel-to-toe and jump on small trampoline to improve balance and coordination for whole body learning.

Miller and Coron went on to explain to the board that there are three imaginary lines on everyone’s body called a midline that dives the body, a line down the middle dividing left to right, at the center dividing top from bottom, and a line that divides front from back. The issues many of their four year old students face comes when they are unable to cross their midlines.

For the students who are unable to cross their midlines, they can often have trouble writing or drawing a line left to right or putting on their coats, so the more activities the students participate in to cross their midline the better, according to Coron and Miller. The activities strengthen writing skills, cutting skills, coordination, future reading as well as basic self-help skills.

Not only do the 4K teachers focus on balance, coordination and reflexes they also practice gross motor skills each day in the SMART Room. These activities include the Alligator Crawl, which enhances coordination and integrates both sides of the brain, and Slap Track to coordinate eye teaming and movements as the students slap the pictures the activity helps strengthen their wrists for future writing.

The vision activities the 4K students work on each day include tactile trackers and swinging ball, which allows the students the opportunity to practice smooth pursuit eye movement and eye-hand coordination.

Since implementing the program into their daily routines in their 4K classrooms this year, Coron and Miller reported seeing results in many of their students. One example Coron gave was the improvement her students have made using eye tracking to complete mazes as they are now looking ahead to see where they need to go to complete the maze.

Coron and Miller have their students participate in these types of activities every day for a half hour in the SMART Room, and hope these types of activities will be implemented into physical education in the future to allow the students to improve the skills they need to become successful.

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