Rebecca Zook - Math Tutoring Online

Get your free copy of 5 Tips You Must Know to Stop Freaking Out About Math!

Call me free of charge to discuss your situation, and we'll see if I can help.


Triangle Suitcase: Rebecca Zook's Blog About Learning rssfeed

Throw Your Chair Away—Part 2

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

In an earlier post, I wrote about how some classroom teachers are replacing their students’ chairs with stability balls to help their students focus. I tried this myself with a tutoring student of mine who is a 5th grader with ADHD. Unfortunately, the ball was way too big for him—he couldn’t keep his feet flat on the floor. Also, he spent most of the time bouncing up and down on the ball, which was disappointingly nausea-inducing for me. It made it much harder for me to focus on the lesson and make eye contact with him!

Clearly, I attempted this before I had read the longer Associated Press article about Tiffany Miller, where she explains:

“You have to work hard at it all day,” Miller said. “They’re kids. You have to constantly remind them to check their posture, keep their feet flat on the floor. And every half-hour or so, we’ll just stop and I’ll say, ‘OK, stand up. Reach to the sky. Touch your toes. OK, sit back down.’ And then we’ll keep going.”

So if you decide to implement this in your own classroom or tutoring sessions, keep in mind…

Top Two Tips for Replacing Students’ Chairs with Stability Balls:

1. Give your students verbal instructions about their posture and their feet to keep them from bouncing all over the place.
2. Make sure the ball is the right size for the student. Most recommend:
under 4′10″ 16″ or 42cm
4′11″ – 5′4″ 21″ or 55cm
5′5″ – 5′11′ 25″ or 65cm
6′ and taller 29″ or 75cm

A cool tip to figure out what size ball you should order, from the blog getfitwithval:
“If you do not have access to an already inflated stability ball or you are ordering online, you can check your seating position by squatting with your back against a wall and lowering down until your knees are at a 90 degree position. Mark the wall and measure the height that you need.”

I also contacted Tiffany Miller and asked her for more specific verbal instructions to give kids so the ball actually helps them focus instead of serving as a distractor. If I hear back from her, I will definitely post her response here!

Related Posts: Throw Away Your Chair (Part 1)

2 Comments on “Throw Your Chair Away—Part 2”

  • Nan Kemberling on November 11th 10:18 am

    i can’t help but wonder if this might help some of my young cello students. hmmm, but on second thought, they already like to ride the adjustable chair in my studio like it’s the free fall at six flags. can’t imagine how they would deal with a ball!

  • Rebecca Zook on November 11th 2:02 pm

    Oh my gosh, I’m so glad that you’re reading my blog 🙂 You know, I have a friend–a professional violist–who used to practice sitting on a ball sometimes. Maybe it would be worth a shot with some of the kids, if the ball was the right size and they had really specific instructions. But I’m sure that there’s another layer of complexity when the students aren’t just sitting at a desk, but also are holding a (potentialy expensive and valuable) fragile cello! Let me know if you ever try it, I’d like to hear about it 😉

Leave a Reply