Fun on the Balance Board
There are many exercises that can be done on the balance board. With most people, you can hear the improvements in reading after only twenty minutes of various exercises on the balance board. The most common balance board exercise is to throw up and down a bean bag. Another common exercise is to throw the bean bag from one hand to the other as the bean bag goes over head in an arc. This is a more challenging exercise. It is important while doing the work with the bean bag and balance board to include visual tracking. Have the participant "keep their eyes" on the bean bag or track the bean bag where ever it is. This will be difficult for children with poor reading skills. They do not usually track very well. It may be important to have the child get used to balancing on the balance board first. Then get used to throwing the bag up and down and once that is mastered to add the visual tracking of the bean bag.
It is important to customize the balance board to the needs of the individual. Some parents place a balance board underneath a favorite window for their infant children. When toddlers are learning to walk, they will pull themselves up on the balance board to look outside the window. This is teaching them balance skills at a very early age. Make sure the area around the balance board is soft in case the toddler accidently falls off the balance board. Safety should always be a concern when using the balance board. We recommend a spotter be assigned to the participants until the participants have demonstrated that they can be safe on the balance board.
Step by Step Instructions: Fun on the Balance Board.
1. Have the participant stand on the balance board with the feat equal distance apart from the center of the balance board. Have them place their feet at a comfortable distance. The wider the stance the more difficult it is to control the balance board. The best way to get on a balance board is to place the dominate foot on the exact center of the board and then get on the board. Place the other foot on the balance board that is a comfortable distance from the center. Next, move the dominant foot equal distance from the center of the balance board as the other foot.
2. The participant attempts to keep the balance board from moving during the exercises (this is very difficult to do, but the importance of the exercise is not to keep the balance board still, the importance is to stay on the board, track the bean back, and catch the bean bag).
3. When stable, the participant throws a bean bag up and down with one or two hands. The goal is to get the bean bag to about the top of the head and attempt to consistently throw the bean bag to the same spot in the air each time.
4. When the above steps are familiar, the participant visually tracks the bean bag at all time.
5. This exercise is mastered when the participant can close their eyes, continue to move their head as if they were tracking the bean bag and catch the bean bag three times, keeping the height of the throw of the bean bag consistent as with the eyes open.
6. When the participant gets bored of throwing the bean bag at the same spot, the participant can practice throwing and tracking the bean bag as the bag is thrown in a wide arc over the participant's head from one hand to the other. The participant is to attempt to keep the balance board as still as possible.
Exercise:Fun on the Balance Board.
Time: about 5 to 20 minutes.
Recommended Frequency: once or twice a day, 5 or 6 days a week. Balance work should be included in almost all neurodevelopmental programs.
Pretest Assessment: participant has poor balance as compared to other age peers. They may also have poor reading skills.
Mastery: participant can catch the bean bag three times with eyes closed but head moving as if the participant was still tracking and the height of the toss had not diminished.
Additional comments: To prevent boredom, have several activities to do on the balance board. The participant may play catch with another person on or off another balance board. They can throw two bean bags simultaneously such that they catch a bean bag just after they throw a different bean back to their partner. They can develop a rhythm as they interchange the two bean bags. Encourage visual tracking with all of the balance board work.
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