December 2, 2013
When enterprising elementary school teacher Stephanie Burnett dipped into her own pocket to buy stability balls—those big, bouncy inflatable balls usually found at the gym—for her squirmy first graders, she was hoping simply to cut down on the wiggling of her 6- and 7-year old charges.
She accomplished that and a lot more. According to an article in the Orlando Sentinal: “Students who slouched in their chairs or even dozed during lessons changed dramatically after sitting on stability balls for several weeks.”
This comes as no surprise to researchers who have studied the impact that the use of stability balls has on classroom behaviors. As reported in the Orlando Sentinel article, one recent study 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.
Other research from the University of Kentucky in 2011 suggests the balls can have a “dramatic effect” on students with attention and hyperactivity problems.
For Burnett the change has been monumental. “They’re a lot more engaged. They’re a lot more focused, and it takes away the negative aspect of movement… This helps get their wiggles out.”
Will she ever go back to traditional desk chairs? Definitely not. “I so swear by them,” she told Reporter Erica Rodriguez.
“They are so beneficial to these kids. Have kids sat in chairs for 100 years? Yes they have. But it’s just like when you know better, you do better.”
NESCA (Neuropsychology and Education Services for Children and Adolescents) is a pediatric neuropsychology group practice in Newton, MA whose senior clinicians and allied staff evaluate and treat a wide range of complex learning, developmental, behavioral and emotional disorders. Seeking to identify and empower the best in each child, they also address special education issues, school placements and post-secondary transition, often observing children in their classrooms and participating in TEAM meetings. NESCA has served clients from throughout the U.S. and more than twenty other countries.