We all know how important physical activity is for children, including balancing play. Sometimes the weather doesn't allow for a trip to the playground, though. That's where Montessori balance boards come into play.
Without even leaving your home, you can give your child all the developmental benefits of balancing activities.
What are the benefits of balancing toys, though? What is a balance board? How do balance boards align with the Montessori philosophy?
In this article, you will learn what a balance board is, what age to introduce it, and you will get some recommendations on beautiful and well-made balance boards for your Montessori home.
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What is a Montessori balance board
There are several types of balance boards, however, the ones most commonly used in early childhood education settings and Montessori homes are of a certain design. (pictured above)
This material is essentially a sturdy board curved in a semi-circle shape. Their sizes vary slightly, however, toddlers and preschoolers are generally able to extend their legs, while standing, from one side of the board to the other side.
Balancing toys, like Montessori balance boards, have many benefits. Some of the benefits may be obvious, such as better balance and increased strength.
The benefits of balance boards for kids extend beyond the obvious, however. It's a fact that this type of play can help beyond a child's physical development.
Balance boards are frequently used in Occupational Therapy and these boards, as well as other balancing toys, are used in early childhood school settings to help children develop both physically and academically.
The benefits of balancing toys are:
- improved coordination
- improved vestibular sense
- improved propriception
- better problem solving
- imporoved muscle strength & posture
- improved focus & concentration
- improved hand-eye coordination
- better self-esteem
That is to say, a Montessori home set-up will not, and should not, look or function the same as a Montessori classroom.
What age is a balance board for?
Toddlers are typically able to begin using balance boards around the age of 18-months to 2-years-old and may enjoy using them for balancing and other activities beyond the age of 6.
The 6 best Montessori balance board brands
While most balance boards have the same basic design, they are not all the same. There are a variety of features, sizes, weight limits, and color options to choose from.
Piccalio's gross motor toys are second to none when it comes to beauty, simplicity, and eco-sustainability. The Mini Surfer is a great choice for eco-conscious parents looking for a traditional Montessori balance board design.
Lily & River is a popular Montessori gross motor toy shop. Their Little Surfer balance board is well-made and highly rated.
This board is lightweight and simple in its design and aesthetic.
The dark finish sets it apart from other brands of balance boards – it's absolutely stunning.
This Green Walnut balance board is perfect for playspaces with wood flooring that can be damaged by the weight of a child rocking.
There are 2 colors to chose from, green and grey, so you can pick the board that best compliments your child's play area.
This Tree Sounds balance board is a beautiful option for playspaces with hardwood flooring or tiles. The wool felt lining also helps make this balance board a bit easier on the ears, as it's a bit thicker than the lining on other boards.
The company makes this in different sizes, so be sure to order a larger size if you have multiple children.
Not only does this board have a felt coating that will protect your floors from scratches, but it's designed so that if fingers happen to slip under its edges, they won't get pinched.
Balance board safety tips
There are some general safety rules to implement when you introduce a balance board to your child. They are as follows:
- adult supervision is recommended
- always use it on a flat surface
- never climb on it when it is turned on its side
- keep fingers and toes away from the edges
- use only with bare feet or sneakers – no slippery socks or dress shoes
- do not exceed weight limit specified by the manufacturer
Balance boards are a wonderful addition to any Montessori playroom. The benefits of this toy are amazing and children have so much fun with them.
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