For years, the vision of a classroom designed for both ideal student engagement and classroom management has been a neat and orderly space which features chairs and desks. Typically, these are arranged in either rows, small groupings or teams, or, for the more adventurous, in a circle. While there are certainly merits to these sorts of arrangements, there’s certainly a point to incorporating new ideas when it comes to student seating.
One of the more interesting trends to emerge as of late has been the arrival and implementation of exercise balls into student seating arrangements. While it may sound like a recipe for absolute disaster, using exercise balls in a learning environment has actually been shown to yield considerably favorable results over the past few years. If you think the idea might benefit your students, but you’re still hesitant to give it a try in your own school, take a look at these tips:
Not All Fun and Games
If your head is filled with images of inflated orbs flying around the classroom as you completely lose control of your pupils, take a deep breath. Not only has this tactic already been done by tons of teachers, but it’s also been successful. Human Kinetics has reported that when exercise balls were placed in a classroom of children with autism for ten minutes a day, three days a week, the balls actually improved student behavior while they were seated. In fact, the source found that attention to subject matter by between 25 and 80 percent. While it cannot definitively be said exactly what causes this spike in behavior , many believe that it has to do with the ability to displace excess energy in a non-disruptive fashion.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Pricey
Unless you have the privilege of teaching in a considerably financially fortunate area, one of your foremost concerns at the thought of integrating this new form of seating is the initial overhead cost. This is a valid concern, and an extremely pragmatic one, but it need not be a huge worry. According to the Chicago Tribune, there exists an entire price spectrum when it comes to purchasing exercise balls for your classroom. Some of the nicest models come with a plastic base that holds the ball in place, which is mounted on wheels to allow for mobility while the student remains securely atop it. These models can cost as much as $100 each. Standard exercise balls from your local sporting goods store, however, work just as well and tend to cost between $15 and $40, making them a more affordable option.
It Can Be Temporary
Change of any sort can be harder to integrate into a given learning environment when the initial investment requires a somewhat permanent or long term commitment to an idea. That doesn’t have to be the case with using exercise balls in the classroom. The low cost of the balls means that the bank won’t be broken if it doesn’t work out. And, of course, it’s worth noting that the balls are easy to patch and repair, making them simple to transfer from classroom to classroom over a period of multiple years.