DAVIDSON, NC -- All over Denise Addison’s kindergarten/first grade class at Davidson elementary school there is constant movement. Kids gently bob up and down on stability balls while doing their work.
The same exact stability ball you find at your local gym. Sitting kids on a bouncy surface of any kind may seem counter-productive, but believe it or not in this classroom its constant movement, not sitting still that is encouraged.
“A lot of times kids this age just want to move, even adults want to move,” Addison said. “ For years I have said let me try this, or that. I have gone to occupational therapists trying to figure out what I can do to help my kids.”
This year thanks to a mini-grant from the school’s Healthy Schools Initiative program it became possible for her to put all her students on stability balls, instead of a traditional chair.
Addison says the results have been amazing.
“Automatically the first day we saw kids that were not able to focus on certain things, right off they were able to finish an activity that they were never able to finish and we have seen hand writing get better as well.”
Sarah Meyer’s son Anderson is in Addison’s class.
Sarah describes her son as a busy body and says she has seen a big improvement in his school work and overall attitude.
“It's very hard for him to sit in a chair, for seven hours, so the fact that he is sitting on a bouncy ball all day and bouncing and getting that movement, has allowed him to concentrate better,” she said. “It's fabulous, it has changed Anderson's school work, it's changed his behavior at home, and at school. It's really been fabulous for all these kids, because movement is so important for them.”
There are six strict rules in the classroom for the stability balls. Rule No. 6 says bouncing on the ball is encouraged, provided you follow rule No. 3, that says when you are sitting on your stability ball you must have both feet on the floor and your bottom on the ball.
These rules are for a very good reason says Addison.
“First of all you have to sit correctly, there is no slouching. Now they are kids so it’s a day by day proposition, really minute by minute sometimes,” she said. “The goal with the rules is feet on the floor, that way the stability ball can help them, then the focus can be on the work, on improving handwriting , reading more deeply, as the bouncing on the ball fulfills that sensory need.”
Like every school room the rules in Addison’s class have been tested.
“Oh yea, the first day we had one little guy say something to another, and dared him to do something, and of course he did it and they lost their stability balls and had to sit on regular chairs. Overall there have been few incidents after that, because they understood that we made the rules for a reason, and it is suppose to help them and they see that and no one wants to lose their stability ball and be the only one sitting on a regular chair.”
Sarah Meyers adds: “It's been wonderful to see Mrs. Addison jump in and try something new, to think outside of the box for these kids and try something that a lot of teachers might be afraid of. To bring all the extra movement to the classroom could be viewed as disruptive by many people, but she just rolls with it, and the kids are great they follow the rules and Mrs. Addison has been amazing with these kids.”