Friday, October 30, 2009

How Hopscotch Helps Vision

One of the games I remember playing at recess was hopscotch. My school had a cement playground between the brick building and a twelve or fifteen foot high fence along the back yards of the neighboring houses. There was also a sand lot that did not belong to the school but which we were allowed to use during recess but no girls were welcome on that part of the playground in the early 1960s because the rough wild boys were always playing soccer or softball. And, of course, we were wearing dresses so that wasn't an option for us even if the boys would have tolerated our presence. Since boys have cooties, we didn't mind being excluded because who wants to get cooties. The girls tended to dominate the black-top part of the school yard. We also often played hopscotch - especially if someone remembered to ask the teacher for a piece of chalk from the black board to draw the board. It is too bad that recess is being marginalized because even a simple game of hopscotch relies on and improves the learning-related vision skills that make academic progress easier.

Even drawing the hopscotch board takes a combination of visual skills. First, using the visual perceptual skill of visual memory, the chalk artist checks the mental image of the board. Then, using visual spatial relations, another visual perceptual skill, and visual motor planning, the chalk artist arranges the lines - oops- don't forget to apply good visual motor integration so that the lines meet at good perpendicular corners and the numbers in the boxes are legible.

Applying visual attention and good saccadic eye movements, the kids scan the yard until they locate a rock that won't roll too much, is colored so that it contrasts with the pavement enough to find after tossing it, and is small and light weight enough to pitch.

Again, it takes good eye movements, visual attention, and the ability to team both eyes on a location in the distance as well as great visual motor integration to make an accurate throw so that the rock lands in the next box.

Next, the vestibular system has to coordinate with the visual system with good bilateral integration skills to hop through the board without stepping on any lines.

Finally, visual memory has to remain at work between turns so that the players can keep track of their next goal.

So, if anyone tries to take away your recess - try challenging them to a game of Hopscotch. And, please, post a comment to share what was your favorite recess activity when you were in grade school.

1 comment:

Mom said...

And I thought hopscotch was pretty simple: draw the lines, toss the rock, hop! Some of us were just better "drawers" than others!
We girls had to play volleyball every day because there were so many of us. Yes, the boys had a huge blacktop field to run around, while the gentler sex was lined up in teams , rotating in on courts with tall nets. We all moved actively at least.