Using exercise balls is great for balance, core strengthening, learning proprioception, and especially, “getting the wiggles out!”
I know some therapists use swings or running around the clinic to help a kiddo get their wiggles out before they can focus on a therapy session, but here’s another strategy if you don’t have a swing or trampoline or the space to run around if you want to help a kiddo focus more on their next task.
Highlights from the article:
EUSTIS — When Seminole Springs Elementary teacher Stephanie Burnett told her colleagues she was going to issue bouncy, inflatable stability balls to her wiggly 6- and 7-year-old students instead of desk chairs, the initial reaction was shock.
“When people realized what I intended to do the first thing people said was, ‘I think it’s great, but I think you’re crazy,'” said Burnett, 31, who is in her third year teaching. “‘You’re not going to have chairs at all?'”
The plastic exercise balls were first developed in the 1960s for physicaltherapy but have since been used in gym workouts to rev up traditional push-ups, sit-ups or yoga moves. The idea is for the ball’s instability to improve a user’s own stability, coordination and posture. The same concept seems to work with a growing number of schoolchildren across the country, according to research, but with an added benefit — it keeps kids engaged during class.
A study on exercise balls referenced in the article:
In 2008, Kilbourne replaced students’ desk chairs for 14 weeks with stability balls and found that 98 percent of them favored the ball-chairs. They reported positives such as improved posture and better attention levels. Kilbourne now fields daily questions from teachers about how they can do the same in their classes.
More recent research conducted by educators and medical researchers in Aroostook County, Maine, schools and released this year found 78 percent of teachers said handwriting improved in students who used stability balls instead of desk chairs. Students were also less squirmy and even improved or maintained test scores, according to the study. Other research from the University of Kentucky in 2011 suggests the balls can have a “dramatic effect” on students with attention and hyperactivity problems.
Back to the teachers’ comments about using exercise balls in the classroom:
“They’re a lot more engaged,” Burnett said. “They’re a lot more focused, and it takes away the negative aspect of movement. A big push right now is, ‘Sit down. Be quiet. Let’s focus on your work.’ And this helps get their wiggles out.”
In Orlando, Audubon Park Elementary fourth-grade teacher Brandon Thomas, who also uses stability balls, agreed. Thomas began using the balls three years ago after seeing a colleague’s classroom. He believes the bouncy chairs help students feel less constrained and will catch on in schools as more educators integrate technology into the classroom.
Another video from a similar story from a year ago:
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