On the ball

Colorado teachers are replacing classroom chairs with “stability balls” used in Pilates exercise classes, reports AP.

“They’re awesome,” gushed 10-year-old James Howell, a fourth grader at Bauder Elementary School whose class switched to purple stability balls in January. “They help you focus, they help you keep your structure. And sometimes you get to bounce on them, get the wiggles out.”

. . . “The whole theory with the brain is that when your body’s engaged, your brain’s engaged,” (teacher Tiffany) Miller said. “I call it actively sitting. They’re maybe moving their legs a little, wiggling some. But their upper body, they’re focused on writing, on the teacher. It really works.”

John Kilbourne, a professor in the Department of Movement Science at Grand Valley State University in Michigan tried stability balls with his students.

Nearly all said they preferred sitting on the balls. Students mentioned improvement in their ability to pay attention, concentrate, take notes, engage in classroom discussions and take exams.

Via Education Gadfly.

About Joanne


  1. “Research is starting to back up that theory.”

    I’m glad a discovery as momentous as this will soon be backed up by research although a survey of the opinions of 52 students might generate some skepticism among the less generous about the definition of the word “research” that’s being used by the good professor.

  2. Again, nothing new under the sun. This sort of thought has been around regarding ADHD/Autistic kids for a long time. If you’d like to see more research on it, those are the key words I’d use to search ERIC.

    I keep a couple of old, mostly broken, rolling office chairs in my room for my fidgety kids. My bigger boys also use them because the desks are too small to be comfortable (the kids are not fat, but up around 6’4″).

  3. I’m surprised they aren’t required to wear knee pads and helmets while sitting on those balls! 😉

  4. “…they aren’t required to wear knee pads and helmets while sitting on those balls!”

    That comes next after the first lawsuit filed by a parent whose kid got hurt by “falling off his ball” when he fell asleep in class.

  5. Richard Brandshaft says:

    Sitting on balls is also recommended by fitness instructors–not a trivial advantage today.

    The idea is that you can’t actually sit still on one (true at least for me) so you are constantly working your abdominal muscles to stay upright.

  6. Tracy W says:

    One of my cousins used one of those balls as her work chair for a time when she was suffering from lower back problems, and they cleared it up. Now she teaches primary school, so she’s on her feet at least half the day, so that also works.

  7. BadaBing says:

    Could you put a bumper sticker on your car that says, “My Students Have Balls”?

  8. “Teachers have bigger balls.”

  9. This seems like a great idea. I can’t help but notice that my chair in my office swivels, has a back that tilts up and down, is height adjustable, and is on wheels. And is padded! I suspect that I would be much less productive if my chair were hard plastic or wood and bolted to my desk at an arbitrary fixed distance. (You could probably equip a couple of classrooms with stability balls for the cost of my desk chair, too, so someone should be applauded for finding a solution cheap enough to actually be implemented).