Local schools replace school chairs with bouncy balls to help kids focus

Posted at 4:59 AM, Oct 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-06 07:34:49-04

For the 4th graders at Southern Oak Elementary in Largo, regular old chairs are 'sooooo last year'. Instead, they're reading, writing and arithmetic-ing on bouncy balls and milk crates, in bungee chairs, rocking chairs and really cool tents.

"I love it," says Brandon in the zombie shirt. "It's a great idea."

This idea is called "flexible seating" and more and more Bay Area schools in Hillsborough, Sarasota and now Pinellas are banishing standard chairs for playful, yet effective, modern alternatives.

"They work better when they're multitasking," says teacher Courtney Morra. "The kids that work better bouncing on a ball or writing an essay or working on a computer -- it just helps them focus more."

Movement, burning excess energy, sparking creativity -- it works with kids in 2017, especially since many are actually more sedentary due to time on phones, on tablets.

Teachers have been paying for the flex seats themselves.

This is Morra's first year using "flexible seating," and although any hard evidence that it helps performance is still down the road, she's a believer already.

"They feel like they're getting something out of it," says Morra. "So they're a little more willing to do the things we ask them to do."

As for the kids themselves, it's a smash. They were given time to decide which flex seat works for them. For Gabriel, he likes the standup desk -- which is not unlike the current movement in the modern workplace. 

"I thought it was going to be pretty weird," Gabriel says. "But now that I'm actually doing it, it's way better."