Ruth Hill instructor creatively channels students’ energy
by Celia Shortt
First graders have a lot of energy and Ruth Hill Elementary First Grade Teacher, Rebecca Craver has found a creative way to help channel that energy — her students use stability balls instead of chairs.
“I have 24 kids in here, and every student is with me,” she said. “These balls engage them so much better than a chair.”
Craver initially discovered this use of stability balls while researching alternative ways to help attention issues in the classroom. Her research led her to the company WittFitt, which was founded by a former teacher and focuses on learning in motion and integrating stability balls in the classroom.
Craver attended training classes offered by WittFitt. Once completed, she brought the balls into the classroom, beginning the new concept about a month after school began.
“I made sure the kids understood these were not bouncy balls, they were chairs,” she said. “They had to earn the right to sit on them.”
Not surprisingly, Craver’s students have come to love the alternative to the typical classroom chair.
Lily Mayner thinks they are better than chairs because she can bounce on them and it forces her to sit “straight up.” Her favorite part is when Mrs. Craver plays songs during free time, allowing the children to bounce a little while sitting on the balls.
Jada Wilkes also likes being able to bounce with the balls.
“I like to bounce,” she said. “We can do exercise on them. She (Mrs. Craver) puts on music, and we can bounce a little.”
The kids also have rules for using the balls. First, their feet have to be on the floor at all times. Second, their bottoms have to be on the ball. Third, their backs have to be straight. Last, they are asked to look on the floor before putting the ball in place, to make sure there is nothing on the floor that could puncture it.
During the process of getting the stability balls integrated into her classroom, Craver never faced an obstacle. Her principal was excited about the idea, as were the parents of her students. She even found local organizations who were willing to sponsor the project.
“I truly believe that it takes a village to raise a child,” she said. “I am greatly appreciative of their willingness (the donors) to support our classroom and be a part of our village.”
As far as keeping the stability balls, Craver has no future plans of teaching without them.
“I don’t think I’d be able to teach without them now,” she said. “It’s a part of me and how I teach. It’s been a wonderful experience, and I would highly recommend it if you are willing to go through the right steps.”