School can be overwhelming for children who have trouble focusing or have specialized sensory needs. While the situation will differ according to each student, there are some basic items to have on hand in your classroom so you’re prepared to help each youngster do their individual best and achieve their full potential.
Originally developed in the 1960s and also known as balance balls, stability balls or exercise balls, these items have a broad range of helpful applications. In response to a therapy ball’s instability, and in order to stay balanced while sitting on one, the body instinctively and continually engages core muscle groups. Constant movement is required in order to stay seated on the ball – and that movement, however slight, helps kids focus.
- Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, while attempting to enhance learning and reduce obesity in school children, found that the ability to move around while sitting made students more attentive.
- A similar study, published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, reported that students with ADHD who sat on therapy balls demonstrated improved behavior and legible work productivity.
Using Balls to Improve Motor Skills
Smaller plastic balls are not only inexpensive and fun, but they can be used in myriad ways. Throwing and catching balls of different sizes helps kids to develop gross motor skills. Especially in younger children, social skills also tend to improve, as they participate in simple games that involve rolling, tossing or kicking balls to one another.
Helping students with sensory needs to better process their surroundings can be challenging. To address this issue, create a classroom sensory kit with a variety of items to apply to different students.
- To calm students and reduce sensory overload: Consider including noise-reducing earmuffs and sunglasses for children who find it difficult to sit under flickering fluorescent lights. Another great suggestion is this helpful book for kids who live with anxiety.
- For fidgeting and tactile input: Your sensory kit should contain hand fidgets, stress balls, flexible bracelets, desk buddy rulers and hand putty or theraputty.
For additional ideas to enhance your classroom or therapy space, partner with the expert team at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services. Like you, our passion is bringing out the best in each and every student. We also can help keep your therapy career on the right growth track. Read our related posts or contact us today to hear more.