Whether you’re heavily involved with the Montessori method of teaching and learning, or you just have an active toddler or child, a balance board might be a good addition to the toys around your home.
A toddler balance board is a curved wooden board that can be used for play or exercise activities. They are also referred to as wobble boards. Balance boards are versatile and can help with developing balance, improving posture, strengthening the core, or even for various forms of play.
The balance board has more uses than you would think from just taking one look at it. Because of their versatility, they can have as many or as few purposes and uses as you or your child can make up. Before investing, it’s important to understand what balance boards are, some of their uses, and how to use them.
What Are Toddler Balance Boards?
Toddler balance boards are also commonly known as wobble boards. They are a Montessori toy designed for creative play and exploration by children. It helps kids to learn about balance and movement and helps them to improve their posture and develop core strength.
Balance boards are wooden boards that typically have a sort of curved shape. They can be left as a natural wood design or easily customized from a selection of colors and designs to help you personalize your board.
The wobble boards or balance boards can be used both indoors and outdoors because they have a water-based coating. This allows you the flexibility and freedom of play in more than just one location.
They’re great for using as exercise tools and are a fantastic way for kids to get out some of their energy. There are great physical benefits to using a balance board. Some studies have even shown that using a balance board can help to prevent ankle sprains.
As it says in the name, a balance board is good for balancing. By using the wobble board, kids can develop a sense of balance and learn how it works. As children learn about and begin to master the skill of balance, it will allow them to do other activities in the future. They will be able to ride a bike, play sports, move their body smoothly and fluidly, and perform basic daily tasks.
How to Use a Wobble Board
We’ll talk about various uses and ways to use a balance or wobble board a bit later, but as for the actual mechanics involved with using a wobble board, it’s quite simple. Balance boards are quite a safe way to help children be exposed to things that will help them get vestibular input.
The vestibular system has to do with the inner ear and is involved with balance and movement. Balance boards are a pretty safe and great way to help kids become used to receiving vestibular input. The only thing they need to do is to stand on it. As they do this, they will naturally shift their body weight and respond in the right way as the stimuli change.
Kids may start by just tilting or shifting their weight from left to right. Then, they may try to keep their bodies centered and keep the board balanced perfectly in the center. The fact that the board can only fall a few inches helps kids to feel comfortable with challenging themselves further than they normally would.
If kids are nervous to use a balance board at first, it might be helpful to distract them by using music or a favorite toy. A way to get them to start moving around on the balance board is to hand them objects from opposite sides of the board. This way, they will have to begin shifting their weight.
Ways to Use a Balance Board
There are as many ways to use a Montessori wooden balance board as you can imagine and think up. As the name implies, you can use a balance board to practice balancing your weight.
The board can be used for creative and imaginative play, as well as for exercise and stretching. It’s an ideal way for active kids and toddlers to release their energy. They can play on the board in a variety of different ways. Some kids use the board as a slide, a fort, a rocker, a boat, and other things. The board can be used to lay on and can even be used for stretching into yoga-like positions on either side of the curved board.
The design of the board itself is very simple, but it is quite an open-ended, versatile, and inventive toy that can provide a toddler with hours of entertainment and encourage the use of their imagination during play. Kids love using these balance boards specifically for the open-endedness and unlimited play potential they possess.
It’s not just for small kids either. Most boards can hold up to 300 pounds or more, so even many adults can use the board as well. This is thanks to the heavy-duty wood creating a very strong and sturdy board that almost anyone can use. Everyone may have a different use for the board. Whether you use it as a ramp to drive toy cars on or to hone in your balance before you go snowboarding again, the balance board is great for any activity you may think of.
The Montessori Method Behind Wobble Boards
Balance boards are actually part of the Montessori method. Montessori curriculum is based around each student’s individual learning style and pace of learning. It is student-led, and the students participate in independent activities and hands-on learning.
In Montessori classrooms, things are set up so that each child is placed in a group according to their age. They can learn, explore, and discover at their own pace. They are also able to learn in their own unique style. Being placed in groups gives students the option to work in groups if they choose to, or they can just learn and work on their own. This helps to maximize their learning experience.
This particular method of teaching and learning is designed to meet the needs of students. It has been found that experiential learning is one of the most effective ways to learn. This is especially true for subjects like math, science, social interaction, language, and music.
Montessori learning typically happens in a prepared environment, or a “Montessori classroom,” where materials are used in the Montessori method to help promote independence, movement, self-learning, self-correction, and peer teaching. The Montessori materials and method help to promote self-discipline, exploration, and freedom. Montessori materials and tools help to encourage cognitive and sensory skills and help to develop self-awareness.
In the case of the Montessori balance board, it’s a great tool that helps children and toddlers to learn and play. The wobble board, or curvy board, helps children to gain awareness of their body weight. This is called proprioception, which is the perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body.
This tool will help kids with their sensory skills, posture, and coordination. It also provides exercise and helps kids develop core strength. In addition to all of this, it will help with their balance and their vestibular system. This system, the inner ear, is related to equilibrium.
In line with the hands-on, experiential learning that Montessori methods are known for, the balance board is a perfect Montessori tool to help kids learn about balance and other things in a hands-on way.
Benefits of Balance Boards
Many benefits come with using balance boards in learning or play. Because of their many uses, they can have varying benefits as well.
Not only can kids stand on the board and wobble side to side (hence the name, “wobble board”) to help work on and improve balance, but they can also crawl on it on the curved side. They can even flip the board over and use it more as a ramp to crawl on.
A benefit of the wobbly nature of the balance boards is that it helps kids to learn how to quickly adjust their footing, position, or make corrections in the moment. Because of the unique nature and moving surface of the balance board, this will encourage toddlers to explore and learn through fun activities while they play.
It also helps children to learn a sort of discipline as they learn the boundaries and limits of the board. This helps them to understand what they can and cannot do without someone having to show and teach it to them. They will be able to figure out the limits of the board on their own through trial and error.
In addition to this, when children are allowed to explore and play with this toy on their own, it gives children a great sense of freedom. This exploration and freedom will help toddlers to develop greater proprioception. This basically means that they will become more aware of their self-movement and the position of their body.
As children will use this tool for balance activities, it will improve their core strength. This is because of the tiny adjustments a person needs to make in balancing. They will also learn to rely on the core muscles to maintain their stability.
If you love the Montessori approach to helping toddlers grow and develop, you’ll love balance boards. If you want your kids to have more experience with these sorts of toys, it will be enjoyable for you to watch and help your children to play on their own for many hours on a balance board. You may even want to steal the board during nap time to do some balance practice of your own! Balance boards make great yoga partners.
Are They Worth It?
Whether a balance board is worth it to you or not depends on what you’re expecting when it comes to Montessori toys. With balance boards, they have many uses and benefits. They can be used for exercise, balance, and encouraging play. They also encourage exploring and imaginative play in children.
As discussed previously, a large part of and benefit of using a balance board has to do with the vestibular system. It really helps kids to develop and get used to receiving vestibular input. This helps them adjust to what it feels like when they need to move to stay balanced. It helps them know how to balance, how to move, and how to know what to do to stay upright or have the board move in the desired way.
There are many benefits in having children use a balance board. If these benefits are important to you, a balance board may be a worthwhile investment for you and your family.
You are probably wondering how much these boards cost. For the most part, they can be quite pricey. The average balance board costs around $59-$119, like these wooden balance boards on Etsy. Some fancy balance boards can cost as much as $300! If this is far out of your budget, you can also find wobble boards for around $40-$70 on sites like Amazon.
You will have to spend more money for a more quality product, but the Montessori balance board is worth it. They are sturdy and will last many years and many children. You may even find that you enjoy using it yourself!
For all the good that they do, the versatility, and the quality of the product, a good balance board is worth the cost.
You can choose to build one on your own, like the father in the video below, but if you don’t already have many of the necessary tools, you will probably find that it is cheaper and worth it to simply purchase one already made.
Now that you know about what a balance board is and all the benefits associated with balance boards, act on your knowledge! Go out and get one, or start a fun DIY project and make one yourself. With these balance boards, the possibilities are truly endless, and you won’t be disappointed by the outcome.