Wobble stools. Sounds fun, looks great, and your child will probably love the novelty of using one. But is this the best seating option for your child?
Wobble stools, also referred to as ‘active seating options,’ usually consist of a rounded base and circular seat without back support. This is intended to provide a different seating environment for children at school. The rounded base supplies an endless amount of ‘wobble’ and ‘tilt’ compared to a traditional chair. Classrooms are more inclusive than ever before, and awareness around sensory tools are becoming more popular. Wobble stools can be helpful to support regulation for some children, however for others, it may present challenges.
The Pros of Wobble Stools
The wobble stool is commonly utilised to support a child’s regulation. It is said to have the potential to improve attention, focus, and engagement in the classroom. The movement of a wobble stool provides both vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (deep pressure) feedback, which can support a child’s nervous system. A child that has challenges with sensory processing disorder may require these inputs consistently throughout the day to participate in their daily occupation (education).
You may even notice that as an adult, you enjoy rocking on your chair at your work desk without realising. Of course, the integration of a wobble stool may not be suitable for every classroom. A collaboration between the client, family, therapist, and school likely takes place to ensure this equipment is suitable.
The Cons of Wobble Stools
Sitting correctly on a wobble stool requires the constant engagement of core muscles, in order for a child to maintain adequate posture in their seat. Despite all the fun, children with low muscle tone or core strength will find this very challenging. Working against the movement of the chair to keep their body upright all day can be exhausting, causing fatigue, inattentiveness, and disengagement from their work.
Children with poor core strength may compensate by leaning on their desk, affecting their learning and performance. It is important that the use of a wobble stool is closely monitored by a teacher throughout the day to ensure a child is taking regular rest breaks to avoid this.
Your OTFC Occupational Therapist will be able to work collaboratively with you, your child, and their educators to better understand and support your child’s regulation needs. Ensure you mention a wobble stool to your OT to find out if this, or other regulation tools, would be the right fit for your child!
Alternative classroom regulation ideas
- TheraBand’s on a traditional chair – provides proprioceptive input through child’s legs and joints
- Movement breaks during long work periods (think: Simon Says, yoga, animal walks, skipping, hopping, running)
- Regular rest breaks if using seating equipment (offer standing, traditional chair, and floor time options)
Author: Kate Mullen – Occupational Therapist