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Most Davidson Elementary Students Now Use Stability Balls For Chairs

Tasnim Shamma

  A teacher at Davidson Elementary school conducted an experiment late last year.  She gave her students exercise balls to sit on, instead of chairs. WFAE paid her classroom a visit then. A year later, it’s no longer an experiment. It’s become a way of sitting at the school, or rather, bouncing. 

The balls are called stability balls. But that’s a misnomer. Visit a classroom at Davidson elementary and kids are sitting on the balls both feet planted on the floor. But they’re also wiggling and wobbling a bit. It took Principal Dana Jarrett some getting used to.

“If you have any type of motion sickness, you might have to gather your thoughts when you walk in because all the children have a little movement going on,” says Jarrett.

It takes enthusiastic hand-raising to a whole new, bouncy level. 

He was soon sold on the idea. 

“There’s that constant movement that allows them to release some energy, release that little bit of extras that children get bottled up inside,” explains Jarrett. “But then their efforts go straight to the reading, straight to the writing.  I’ve seen some of the most beautiful writing come off a child sitting on a stability ball.” 

The experiment started with one classroom.  Last January, then seven-year-old Della Scott-Michael told WFAE she liked it. 

“It’s like bouncy and it can help your core grow.  It’s something inside your body that helps your muscles get stronger and such,” said Della. 

Now 23 out of 30 Davidson Elementary classrooms use the stability balls. Kids have to abide by two rules: Don’t bounce them off the ground and don’t kick them.

“Any time a child feels like they’re over-stimulated or they just need a chair to sit, they’re always welcome to get a chair.  But I rarely see that happen,” says Jarrett. 

He says it took about $12,000 to outfit all the classrooms with stability balls. The school’s PTO chipped in some as did local businesses and doctors. The price includes a 50 percent discount on many of the balls from the company supplying them.