Teachers say: Out With the Chairs, In With the Yoga Balls

By: Kristen Guilfoos Email
By: Kristen Guilfoos Email

Remember those hard wooden or plastic chairs you used to sit on in elementary school?

They weren't the most comfortable things in the world, which means they also weren't the most effective at getting us to pay attention.

It may seem a little out-there at first, but that's why some schools in our area are choosing not to rest on tradition.

When you walk into Heather Friday's first grade classroom at Mead Charter School in Wisconsin Rapids, you'll notice something just a little bit different.

She says, "We have 7 yoga ball chairs."

And if you're thinking, wait a minute... Don't these kids just wiggle around all day?, you'd be right, and that's exactly the point.

Friday says, "They do help the children sit for longer periods of time while they're working. They don't have to get up as much because they are able to rock and bounce."

She adds, "After teaching first grade for many years, I began to notice the patterns of children. I noticed first graders were very active and they like to get up a lot, bounce around, they're loud and noisy. I was thinking, what can I do to help them?"

She decided yoga balls were the perfect solution, but that was only half the answer. She still had to figure out how to pay for them. That's where www.donorschoose.com came in.

Friday says, "You can create a project as a teacher and you can find ways to get money. I had a lot of help from friends and family. They donated money, and then places in the community will match the funds."

She raised enough money to buy ball chairs for half the desks in her room.

As for how she decides which kids get to sit on the ball chairs, she has a very simple system.

"i go right down the class list. So it's very fair. They can have the ball chair every other day, depending, and they can choose not to have a ball chair."

After seeing the success in her own classroom, she bounced the idea off other teachers in the school and they liked it so much the principal got to work right away.

Principal Margie Dorshorst says she found the money any way she could.

"it was a variety of sources. Some was through building funds, some was through PTC, which is our parent organization, but managed to find enough money to get one for every classroom."

So now, in Mrs. Friday's room, and in classes all throughout Mead elementary, the kids are paying closer attention, they're more focused and they're getting better grades. I suppose you could say they're on the ball.