Bounce While Learning in Team Newell
Team Newell students say goodbye to regular classroom chairs, and they say hello to twenty new stability balls.
What is a stability ball?
A stability ball is a large inflatable ball usually used for yoga and exercise, but it can also be used in classrooms in place of chairs. The ball isn’t used for fun, but rather to help students sit up straight and engage the muscles and the parts of their brains needed to remain balanced on the stability ball. Brain research has shown that there is a link between movement and positive academic performance.
How do they work?
When students sit on stability balls, both sides of their brains are engaged in keeping their bodies centered on the balls. And when the brain is stimulated, it's more focused on learning. Not only is the brain better suited to processing new information, young minds are also better able to concentrate on exams, note-taking, class discussions, and other aspects of classroom learning.
A study published in the October 2003 issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy found that students with attention challenges, such as attention deficit hyperactive disorder, tended to focus better when using stability balls instead of chairs. The study revealed that students behaved better and that language skills improved, and that students and teachers preferred the use of stability balls in the classroom instead of chairs. Fidgeting helps children with ADHD concentrate, and just a little movement on the stability balls can meet their demands for expelling excess energy.
How do stability balls improve posture?
Without a back, stability balls force children to sit up straight and engage in better posture than they might ordinarily in a standard school chair and desk. When students are sitting up straight, they're more likely to pay attention. A study on the positive effects of students using stability balls in the classroom in the February 2009 issue of Chronicle of Kinesiology and Physical Education in Higher Education noted, however, that a stability ball is not a long-term cure-all for posture, and that bad habits can return because there's no back support to take pressure off the tailbone. Proper posture at a young age is important because this is when bodies are growing the most. When a child has poor posture, they are increasing their chances of developing spinal deformities. Using a stability ball decreases a child's chance of developing these deformities by forcing them to maintain good posture. The use of stability balls can also help students to become more physically fit because core muscles are engaged and strengthened.
How is it going in Team Newell?
Just in two months, I have noticed “active sitting” has improved focus, flexibility, coordination, balance and handwriting. The stability balls give students the opportunity to direct their natural kinesthetic energy in a positive way rather than me squashing their need for movement. We incorporated stability ball rules that have allowed movement in a controlled manner without causing disturbance in our classroom. When the novelty wears off, I am hoping our overall performance continues to improve. It is an expensive investigation, but it is worth every penny to try to help students reach their full potential as learners.
For more information about stability balls, visit: http://tinyurl.com/bounce4bettergrades
We have 6 students in our room who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and who are currently taking medication. The stability balls are very helpful!!!