Sunday 18 August, 2019

Bouncy Bands aim to help fidgety children

Scott Ertl, the owner of Bouncy Bands LLC based in Winston-Salem, is all about movement for children and adults.

"I think movement is one of the best ways to help people stay healthy," Ertl said. "If we can teach kids early on in school that when they have anxiety, hyperactivity and frustration, movement is a way to help them get back on track so that they can be in the zone to learn and to live," Ertl said.

In 2013, he created Bouncy Bands, a product designed to promote learning through kinesthetic movement.

The bands attach to students' chairs and desks allowing children to stretch their legs and bounce their feet "to release that extra energy, anxiety and frustration while they can work quietly in class," he said.

Ertl, the chief executive of Bouncy Bands LLC, also started a program in 2009 called "Read and Ride" at Ward Elementary to promote literacy and get children more excited about reading, as well as to try to prevent childhood obesity.

Through "Read and Ride," children ride on exercise bikes while they read magazines and books. The program is currently offered at Clemmons Elementary School in Clemmons.

"I call it the 'movement movement,'" Ertl said of his ideas.

Brooke Flynt, a fourth-grade teacher at Ward Elementary in Winston-Salem, has Bouncy Bands for the majority of her students, typically 27 to 32 in her classroom.

"They love them," she said. "It keeps them quiet."

She said she has been using Bouncy Bands for years, adding that she and her son both have ADHD.

"That's why I like them, because I can see it helped him," she said of her son.

She said that her students tend to focus on everything better when they use the Bouncy Bands while simply reading a book or colouring.

Researchers at Clemson University recently did a study called "Wiggle While You Work: The Effect of Bouncy Bands Use on Classroom Outcomes" to assess whether Bouncy Bands promote student learning and improve classroom behaviour.

"I think about the Bouncy Bands as an acceptable way to fidget," said June Pilcher, Alumni Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at Clemson University.

She said that children often fidget in ways that are distracting.

"So the question became: Can the Bouncy Bands help alleviate that?" said Pilcher, the study's lead researcher.

Other members of the research team were Jennifer Bisson and Sarah Sanborn, lecturers in the psychology department, and multiple undergraduate students at Clemson University.

Participants in the study were 25 elementary students in third and fourth grades who were enrolled in a daily afterschool tutoring and educational enhancement program.

The researchers are still looking at the data, but Pilcher said that findings so far suggest that the children who were higher in passive off-task behaviours at the beginning of the study showed fewer off-task behaviours while using the bands.

"In other words, when they had access to the Bouncy Bands, they seemed to be able to focus more directly and engage more directly with the tasks that they were working on," Pilcher said.

The researchers plan to do future studies looking at Bouncy Bands.

"Obviously, at this point, we are very interested in looking at Bouncy Bands in certain clinical populations, like autism," Pilcher said.

But she said that they first want to make sure they know what's happening in standard classrooms.

In May, the researchers completed another study in which students in a standard second-grade classroom in Clemson, South Carolina, used the bands.

 

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