Students bouncing with excitement


Joseph Pratt | Portsmouth Daily Times Students using their exercise balls in the classroom


Joseph Pratt | Portsmouth Daily Times Students using their exercise balls in the classroom


Joseph Pratt | Portsmouth Daily Times Students using their exercise balls in the classroom.


Joseph Pratt | Portsmouth Daily Times Students using their exercise balls in the classroom


By Joseph Pratt

rpratt@civitasmedia.com

West Senators in Mrs. Davis’ second grade classroom are the talk of the school, as they tell peers and their family all about how their teacher rid her classroom of chairs and replaced them with exercise balls.

Teacher Heather Davis has been in elementary education for 17 years and explained that she has been considering a change in her classroom for some time, in order to get her students more active. In her search for a new practice, she discovered teachers using exercise balls in the classroom.

Developing an interest in the idea, Davis began researching studies done on students who learn while sitting on exercise balls, as well as reading testimonials from real experiences. She was sold on the idea pretty quickly, which she then sold to Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) to earn a grant, which then purchased the new seats for her students.

The idea behind exercise balls in the classroom provides many different benefits to the students, from giving children a way to burn energy while learning, to keeping them awake during lessons, to helping them stay physically fit.

“The exercise balls really help keep the students focused, they get rid of student wiggles, they open neurological pathways, allowing them to have better flow to the brain, and studies even show the practice increases better test scores by 20 percent,” Davis said. “I fell in love with the idea. They even keep them in their seats more often, rather than wandering around, because they actually like being at their desk.”

Davis explained that the repeated process of bouncing on the ball directs kinesthetic energy and their need for movement in a positive way, because the child is always moving his or her body to keep balance on the ball. Davis says she knows children have an abundance of energy and they need to move, so the exercise balls allow them to use their energy, rather than denying them the opportunity to use it.

She also mentions that the constant movements and balance associated with the exercise balls allow students to remain alert and focused on tasks with their hands, which helps them absorb their lessons better.

Kendal Matthews is excited about her new seat and says she is finds herself understanding her work easier.

“I was amazed and excited to see them,” Matthews said. “I still really like them, too. They help us use up all our energy when we get hyper. Mrs. Davis even gives us free time to bounce in-between work.”

Matthews said her second grade work is a little harder, but she likes what she is learning and says the exercise balls help her keep on track.

There isn’t any point in the day that Davis doesn’t encourage her students to bounce and use their new seats for their intended purpose, either.

“The students can always use them. They are children and have wiggles; they are fine,” Davis said. “If the rare occasion of them getting a little carried away comes up, I just hold up two fingers, reminding them they are only allowed to bounce one inch off the ground, and they all immediately calm down.”

The students love their new seats so much that Davis said they respect and use them as they are directed, because they don’t want to risk the chance of losing the privilege.

Ethan Kingrey said he is always excited for school now, knowing he is going to have his exercise ball to sit on all day.

“The chairs are really fun and you can exercise on them and get energy in you,” Kingrey explained.

Kingrey recalled and reenacted the emotions he went through when he saw his new classroom and chairs for the first time only weeks ago.

“I was just like, oh my god. I don’t even know. They are so cool and they make things more exciting,” Kingrey explained.

Davis said the balls are low enough to the ground that a fall from the ball shouldn’t hurt any of her students. The classroom has had two students fall this year, but Davis said that is about what she would have with traditional chairs as well.

“Even if the kids fall off the exercise balls, they are actually rolling off them and onto the floor,” Davis said. “They also have more time to catch themselves and refrain from even touching the ground.”

According to Davis, several fellow teachers are looking into replacing their own chairs as well. Also, parents from Davis’ classroom have all made positive comments about the move. The positive feedback from students, peers, and parents has the teacher happy about the move and she looks forward to using them in her teaching.

“I even had one mother come in and tell me that her son is usually bored in school, but he has been coming home excited and saying he isn’t bored at all,” Davis said. “She came in to see what he was talking about and was happy, because they believes the chairs keep him going.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.

Joseph Pratt | Portsmouth Daily Times
Students using their exercise balls in the classroom
http://portsmouth-dailytimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2015/09/web1_Bounce.jpgJoseph Pratt | Portsmouth Daily Times
Students using their exercise balls in the classroom

Joseph Pratt | Portsmouth Daily Times
Students using their exercise balls in the classroom
http://portsmouth-dailytimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2015/09/web1_bounce2.jpgJoseph Pratt | Portsmouth Daily Times
Students using their exercise balls in the classroom

Joseph Pratt | Portsmouth Daily Times Students using their exercise balls in the classroom.
http://portsmouth-dailytimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2015/09/web1_bounce1.5.jpgJoseph Pratt | Portsmouth Daily Times Students using their exercise balls in the classroom.

Joseph Pratt | Portsmouth Daily Times
Students using their exercise balls in the classroom
http://portsmouth-dailytimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2015/09/web1_bounce3.jpgJoseph Pratt | Portsmouth Daily Times
Students using their exercise balls in the classroom

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