Stability balls help maintain focus

Staff writer

After a little test of his own, Peabody-Burns Elementary School Principal Ken Parry decided to find a grant that would allow the school to purchase stability balls for all elementary classrooms.

“The school psychologists brought in three or four to try in classes,” Parry said. “We noticed students were more focused and decided at that point it was worth it to us to try and get more for all of the elementary school.”

Since the beginning of the year, the school has received two grants totaling $1,400 that have allowed the school to purchase stability balls for all students kindergarten through fifth grade.

“Eight hours in a chair is a long time,” Parry said. “This gets the kids moving by balancing because they sit on the balls instead of chairs.”

The balls help with students’ core strength, posture, and coordination, but the biggest benefit is that it helps students focus, Parry said, by giving the students something to concentrate on.

“If you have a kid that is having difficulty focusing, the ball gives them something to do and stops them from that little bit of fidgeting that keeps them from focusing,” he said.

The students must follow certain rules or lose the ball for a day.

“Students must keep their feet on the ground and their bottoms on the ball at all times,” he said. “Students can rock or bounce softly on the ball, but they are not toys.”

They are also used for indoor recess, after school programs, and PE activities, Parry said.

“I think it’s a good change,” he said. “I hope it makes the students more fit and focused and the fact that we were able to do this for our students without using any district money in such a rough time was a great thing.”

Peabody-Burns is not the only school using stability balls in the classroom. Both Hillsboro and Marion elementary classes utilize them.

“I use them as my desk chair in my room,” Rebecca Hofer, fourth-grade teacher at Marion Elementary School, said. “I think they are great, and I see many benefits in using them.”

She has four balls that are shared amongst the students in the class. The students love sitting on them, Hofer said.

“I also believe that for some kids, the balls help them focus, and for others the balls allow them the little bit of motion they need while listening to instruction or while working on homework,” she said.

Hofer bought the balls with a small grant and would love the chance to obtain more to use.

“I think that the whole school could use them, but it all depends on the teachers’ perspective on them, because just like anything else they can become a huge distraction,” she said.

Right now Hofer is the only teacher at Marion to use the balls.

Collette Haslett, fifth-grade teacher at Hillsboro Elementary began using stability balls after doing some research.

“The articles talked about how students have to keep their legs, back and ab muscles engaged so they don’t fall off of the ball,” she said. “If a student has trouble sitting still, it gives them the ability to move a little bit without tipping their chair back.”

Her students follow rules much like Peabody-Burns students in order to safely utilize the balls, or they are taken away.

“I have some students that use the balls everyday and others that only choose to use them occasionally,” Haslett said. “Most of my students enjoy using the stability balls and I plan on continuing this in future years.”

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