Curved wooden boards are believed to be perfect open-ended toys, and as such, there is no right or wrong way to play with them. Once your child gets one, it can be anything his imagination tells him it is: a boat, a table, a chair, bridge or rocker. So, besides promoting imagination and creativity, they keep children moving too.
Luckily, there are activities that promote positive vestibular input, and the balance board is one of them. Balance wobble boards help kids feel more secure in their own environment. Self-balancing boards are recommended children older than three years (some adults have fun using them too), but they are also a very powerful tool when it comes to helping children with sensory needs.
What Is the Vestibular System?
If you have never heard this term before, you are probably wondering what is it and how it affects behaviour. Well, as you know, we have 5 main senses: visual (eyes), auditory (sound), tactile (touch), taste and smell (olfactory). But, there is a sixth sense that we all have and it’s called the vestibular system and it’s placed in the middle and inner ear. This system is responsible for balance and movement. In fact, it refers to gravity, safety, survival, arousal and attention.
How Do Kids Balance Boards Work?
When buying a balance board, you invest in a relatively safe tool to help your child get used to vestibular input. Also called wiggle boards, these pieces are designed to encourage both active and cognitive abilities. Having better gross motor skills, kids will engage with the world around them easier. Since you might not have access to a large backyard or a nearby park every day, these boards are an ideal way for kids to continue to move, groove and wobble in their own house. They work in a way that your child needs to stand on the board and move his body and weight according to the changing stimuli. In addition, these boards significantly increase reading comprehension and fluency, while improving concentration.
Sometimes, for different reasons, a child’s vestibular system might be underdeveloped. In children who have an underdeveloped vestibular system, the brain is not getting the correct information from their eyes, ears, the sense of gravity and movement in their bodies. For these reasons, these children feel unsafe and their arousal level, attention and survivor mode responses arise.
When dealing with children with such issues, it’s important to go slowly once you start with a vestibular activity. If your kid is nervous at first, you can try to distract them with a favourite toy or jumpy music. You can also hand them things from different angles of the board so that they have to shift and balance their weight. It’s important to incorporate vestibular activities slowly and according to your child’s response. After some practice, children will be able to balance with both sides of the board in the air for a longer time.
Benefits of Using Kid’s Balance Boards
Kid’s balance boards promote exercise as your child can rock, balance and climb on the board. These units also improve strength and core stability and improve balance and reflexes. By using them, children develop gross motor skills and spatial awareness. There are entire yoga programs and exercises designed around children’s wobble boards. Several studies have been conducted around the physical benefits of using these boards. A study on athletes has shown that this board is effective in the prevention of ankle sprains.
Balance is a fundamental skill that’s important for children so they can practice sports, ride a bike or rollers and move their body. Standing on a moving curved surface is a great way of developing balance.
Encourage Open Play
There are many ways that your child can play with his balance toy. Balance and wobble boards are carefully designed to improve balance and concentration, and they are great for learning social skills and empathy through pretend play. While adults only see a curved piece of wood, for kids it might be a slide, a tunnel to crawl under, a bed, a boat, a table, a ramp for the cars, a wall for the pretend house, a foundation for their block towers and much more.
Help Children Relax
The rocking motion of a board has a calming effect and is used to help children relax and wind down. If you want to create a comfy place, you can pop a few cushions and a blanket on a board so that your child can enjoy and snuggle into while listening to relaxing music or reading an interesting book. That will help children sleep better too.
These are just some of the reasons why your child will love this wonderful toy. Wobble boards provide opportunities for both active and quiet play and will help your child develop the most important skills and achieve developmental milestones.