So many people ask us: what exactly is a balance board?
It has very quickly become one of our most popular items but very few people understand why that is.
At first sight, you might wonder why a curved piece of wood is so appealing.
But it is far more than just a curved piece of wood.
For our family, it is definitely a favourite addition to our open-ended and active toy collection.
I have watched my kids use it as a physical outlet for balance (of course), as a see-saw, a bridge, a tunnel, a slide, a doll cradle, a puppet stage, a boat, a seat, a step stool, a car ramp, a mini fort, a magic carpet.... the list literally goes on forever! But I think you get the picture.
The concept was developed in the Waldorf classroom to enhance balance and strength.
The Waldorf balance board helps stimulate the vestibular system, which relates to the inner ear and how the body processes balance and movement, as well as, proprioception, which is the awareness of one's physical body and its parts.
All children benefit from developing skills in these areas. However, some children are sensitive to vestibular input - specifically children on the Autism spectrum, children with sensory processing disorders, and children with attention deficit disorders. These children sometimes fear movement.
Why the balance board?
Balance boards help children receive positive vestibular input in a safe way.
At first, children stand on the board and practice shifting their body weight appropriately from side to side, learning how to respond to the changes in balance.
Once children learn to master the skill of balancing on the board, they will likely experience more success in other forms of gross motor development, such as participating in sports, riding a bike and increasing fluidity in daily movement exercises.
Most people see the balance board as having only physical benefits - to develop balance, coordination, and strengthen muscles.
But the balance board is also a toy that stimulates imagination and creativity. It responds to the Montessori’s approach of free play and hands-on learning.
And it can be used both inside and outside.
Everyone is preparing their homes for the long, cold winter ahead. Some struggle to find space for large climbers. This balance board provides the opportunity for children to move, but does not take up much space. A great addition to any small playroom!
This board is popular with people of all ages and stages. I guarantee even you will get on the board and give it a try!