What Are the Benefits of Stability Balls in School?
Stability balls, which are pieces of exercise equipment often found in fitness centers and home gyms, are commonly used as a tool for muscle-strengthening activities. These burst-resistant rubber balls are being used as an alternative for chairs in elementary and middle school classrooms across the country. Benefits of using stability balls in school include increased mental focus and improved physical strength.
Children who sit on stability balls instead of traditional desk chairs show increased focus and ability to pay attention to their lessons. This is especially seen in kids who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to research published in "The American Journal of Occupational Therapy." Children with ADHD often display a shorter-than-normal attention span and frequent fidgeting. Sitting on the ball allows students some movement as they learn. The slight body adjustments required to balance on the ball are natural and non-disruptive and provide an outlet for excess energy.
The increased focus and movement that stability balls provide in school can lead to higher levels of productivity. According to the AJOT study, participants who sat on therapy balls instead of classroom chairs showed higher word productivity during a language arts session than those who sat in regular seats. Ann Stockbridge of the Maine-based Education Foundation of the Kennebunks and Arundel explains that "active sitting" on stability balls stimulates the brain and might improve memory, too.
Sitting up straight on a stability ball requires good balance and paying constant attention to your body position. The muscles activated while sitting on the ball grow stronger and contribute to increased core strength. Core strength in children is just as important as it is in adults. A strong core protects against injury and can increase endurance. Kids who participate in strength training may have a lower risk of developing chronic illnesses later in life, such as high blood pressure and obesity.
Safety is of utmost importance in school. Therapy balls designated for classroom use should be outfitted with anti-rolling stabilizers to reduce the risk of falls. Students must also learn proper posture when sitting on the ball. They must sit up straight on the ball with their feet flat on the ground. Minor moving and swaying is acceptable, excessive bouncing, however, can be dangerous and disruptive to others.
- The American Journal of Occupational Therapy: Classroom Seating for Children With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Therapy Balls Versus Chairs
- Education Foundation of the Kennebunks and Arundel: Stability Balls in Our Elementary Schools!
- The Washington Times: Stability Balls Help Posture, Aid Attention in School
- Dyersburg State Gazette: DIS Offers 'Chairless Classroom'
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training: OK for Kids?
Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.