Fidgeting is a GOOD thing in one fifth-grade class in West Chester, Pennsylvania: Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School teacher Robbi Giuliano has replaced all her students’ stationary seats with yoga balls. Om-azing!
I think this is absolutely brilliant and I wish my daughter’s school would do the same thing. The teacher says that she sees improved attention and motivation in her students, and I am not surprised. Sitting still all day long is not only TERRIBLE for anyone’s health (like, it literally takes years off of your life, seriously), but it’s totally draining and vitality-sapping, especially for little kids who are filled with energy! Plus, this is such a great lesson for kids to see how you can build exercise and movement right in to your everyday life; it doesn’t have to be a big production.
Yoga balls, also called stability or exercise balls, basically keep you slightly active instead of totally passive, the way you are in a chair. Because you have to work to stay balanced, your muscles are engaged and your blood flow is increased, which means you’re not only more physically engaged, but your mental alertness is increased as well. They’re also way better for your posture than the vast majority of chairs (I write, as I sit slumped in front of my totally NON-ergonomic desk chair!). Tons of studies have been done showing that things like yoga balls and standing desks increase productivity in the work place (not to mention your life span), and now schools are catching on.
I’ll admit that I have a hard time seeing how this could work for an entire school day. It seems like it would be an awesome idea for a good chunk of time, like maybe a couple of class periods or more, but Giuliano’s been doing it for THREE YEARS and she says it works great! The rules in her class are that kids have to keep their bottoms on the balls and feet on the floor, but they’re allowed to bounce and bob to their hearts’ content. If someone really doesn’t want to use a yoga ball, he or she doesn’t have to, but Giuliano says that’s only happened once since she started doing it.
They’re pretty inexpensive, too -- I just did a quick Google search and found them for as low as $11 on Amazon (the one in the photo above is $20.99 at kmart.com). I bet you could buy them in bulk for even less. This is one of those no-brainer ideas that could really have a big impact not only on kids’ immediate health, but on their whole outlook about fitness. Yoga balls for everyone!
What do you think -- would you want yoga balls in your kid’s class?
Image via kmart