A Therapy-Informed Review of Bouncy Bands
Research has shown that kids learn better when they are allowed to move, fidget, or be actively engaged in learning.
Now ask yourself this next question: If we know this to be true, why do we expect students to still be seated at desks for so much of their school day?
Luckily, the classroom environment is shifting to meet the learning needs of students and many forward-thinking teachers (and school-based Occupational Therapists!) are including "active seating" options that allow for wiggling, jiggling, and subtle movements that promote focus and attention. Our Pinterest page is full of great sensory-informed classroom seating ideas!
In a 2015 study published by the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, hyperactive movements associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder were found to help people focus better. Another study published in the Journal of Child Neuropsychology, found that, since hyperactivity is a natural state for children with ADHD, preventing them from fidgeting actually became a distraction and children were better able to learn when allowed to fidget. The reality is that all kids need to move, not just those with a diagnosis of ADHD! So, what's a teacher to do for the times when you need your students to sit, but fidgeting in those hard classroom chairs gets to a level of distraction?
As a school-based OT, I would desperately try to modify traditional classroom chairs by wrapping and tying reams of TheraBand between the chair or desk legs. No matter the resistance, inevitably the TheraBand would break and snap because they couldn't stand up to the repeated kicking and bouncing of hyperactive feet.
Enter Bouncy Bands
Bouncy Bands was invented by an elementary school counselor who understood the needs of kids to "wiggle while you work," and so his company was created! He must have experienced the same frustration that so many other OTs and teachers did, because the Bouncy Bands are constructed in such a way that they are durable, discrete, and affordable. The research that the company has conducted is impressive, so I had to check it out for myself to share with you all!
Bouncy Bands in Action
There are a few different versions of Bouncy Bands - for desks, chairs, or specialty chairs. I received the desk and chair sets to try in my preschool classroom, so we improvised to use the chair-sized Bouncy Bands on a small work table. They were super easy to install and did not compromise the stability of the table because of the way they fit on top of the existing table legs. With minimal tutorial needed, the students naturally gravitated towards the Bouncy Bands and appropriately bounced, kicked, and foot-fidgeted their way through tabletop activities.
The children in this specific preschool class demonstrate significant sensory processing, attention, and social-emotional issues secondary to having experienced ongoing trauma in their lives. I say this because, many of the children stand at tables and are not able to maintain a seated position for more than 2-3 minutes without leaving the table and the activity. With the Bouncy Bands in place, the students were more likely to approach a tabletop task, able to sit for longer periods of time, and redirected some of their disruptive kicking movements appropriately to the Bouncy Bands. When the simple task of sitting in a chair leads to some major behaviors, the small step of students independently choosing to sit with the Bouncy Bands is a big win!
Check out this video from Bouncy Bands on how other kids are using these great sensory tools in school!
Bouncy Bands for Your Classroom
Okay, so if you were inspired by the Bouncy Bands video like me, you'll want to know how to get your child's class equipped with Bouncy Bands for all students! What I love about this company is that they recognize the importance of funding for teachers to get what they need. They've made it very easy to get you started with applications, funding resources, and educational information for administrators, PTO's, and decision-makers to get on board too. Be sure to check out their Donor's Choose sample application as well as the Bouncy Bands FAQs page for more helpful tips on bringing these sensory tools to your school.
Thank you to Bouncy Band's for sharing these wonderful sensory tools with us! Let me know how you are incorporating Bouncy Bands into your sensory-informed classroom's active seating options!