Several elementary school classrooms across the country have replaced their hard plastic chairs with bouncy ball seats. In my opinion, the idea is absolutely genius. I wish I got to sit on a ball in school…
Mrs. Raabe’s fifth-grade class in Charlotte, North Carolina recently embraced ergonomic innovation in an attempt to increase attention spans and facilitate good posture. The classroom is now a sea of motion in which children bob and weave, sway and bounce their way through lessons perched atop brightly colored fitness balls. The old metal-and-plastic chairs stand in lonely stacks at the front and back of the classroom.
In a letter the students sent to school administrators, the children outlined six compelling reasons they should sit on balls instead of chairs.
“We will be able to wiggle in our seats so we will not feel the need to get up and move around as much and miss parts of lessons,” they wrote. “The balls will help our posture. The balls will help our handwriting because our feet will be on the floor, and we will be sitting up straight.”
Raabe, saw the students’ interest in trying a new technology as a teaching opportunity. The children researched the balls and completed a survey charting their behavior while sitting in a chair and on a ball. The surveys overwhelmingly showed that they got out of their seats less often, exhibited better posture and felt more energetic when sitting on therapy balls instead of chairs.
“I think it’s important for the kids to see how to make educated decisions on things,” Raabe said. A big thing I’ve noticed is the kids are really excited because it’s their own project.”
Anna Franceschetti, 10, said she’s thrilled with her new seat.
“It’s so much better than sitting in a chair. You don’t slouch, and they’re just bouncy and comfortable and you can fidget and move around,” Franceschetti said. Fidgeting, she said, “keeps your brain going.”
Read more at “Students embrace ergonomic seating”
Fifth-grade pupils at a Kansas elementary school also take their classes on fitness balls. The Kansas teacher, Jonann Ellner, believes that balls are a better fit than desks and chairs for children.
“Fidgety kids direct excess energy into staying balanced, allowing them to focus on learning,” Ellner claims. “They sit up straight, and their improved posture sends more blood to the brain, also a learning boon,” she added.
Colorado teacher Lisa Witt studied a dozen of her sixth-grade students in 2001 to demonstrate the benefits of the balls to a skeptical principal. Video studies of the students seem to confirm the ball proponents’ claims, showing improved posture, more time spent on task and less squirming while they sat on the balls. “People are not meant to sit still.”
Read more at “Are Fitness Balls a Better Fit for Children?”
Minnesota math teacher Jenny Merrick recently introduced her sixth grade students to ball sitting as well.
On the first day of school Merrick said the students “walked in and said is this math class? Because they thought it was their health and wellness class.”
Turns out, the balls do have a wellness significance. A Mayo Clinic study found that the balls can be used to burn calories, in effect attacking the growing problem of childhood obesity.
“It makes you sit straighter, which is nice, so you can pay more attention. You don’t need a break in the middle of class, so you’re learning more,” added Nathalie Manker, another of Merrick’s students.
Read more at: “St. Paul Academy Stays on the Ball”