Fifth-grade teacher Sara Wright is using exercise balls instead of chairs to improve students’ attention spans and cooperation during class. Studies show using exercise balls improves behavior and “legible word productivity” of students with attention-deficient/hyperactivity disorder. “I’ve noticed a big difference,” Wright said. “There’s not many fifth-graders that love to come to school, but they come in and sit right down. They’re excited to be here in the morning.”

The child-sized orbs have gone over well with students who say they’re now able to pay better attention in class all while maintaining better posture.

“We get to get our wiggles out,” said student Megan Merryman, grinning. “And it helps us learn better and concentrate. They’re awesome.”

Securing the exercise balls was easier than Wright expected. She raised the more than $1,000 needed, a website that facilitates aid to public school classroom projects.

“I wrote the grant in the middle of October,” Wright said. “We had the money within a week.”

Wright got the idea after reading a few studies testifying to the benefit the balls served to students with low attention spans. A 2003 study by the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, for example, indicated exercise balls resulted in better behavior and legible word productivity for students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Wright said she’s noticed similar results among her students. While the students bounced around on the balls the first few days, they’ve since settled down. A little bit of wiggling, she said, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“In a normal classroom kids don’t naturally sit still,” Wright said. “Even in a regular chair they’re wiggling and moving. This gives them that space to wiggle and move on.” 

Continue Reading:  Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Ind.)

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