Childhood is all about exploration. It’s about wonder and creativity. It’s about not being held back by instructions or guidelines but taking your own approach and making it up as you go along. Childhood is for choices and experiments – for cause and effect and try and fail. Waldorf inspired balance boards are a simple toy that holds so much promise and wonder. They are open to interpretation and can be many things at once. The one thing all their forms have in common is that they are wonderfully beneficial for children.
Balance boards are intriguing creations. They are roughly three feet long and are made of high-quality wood that is shaped into a perfect quarter-circle arc. To adults, these are basic and one dimensional. They’re confusing for us as they come with no instructions. There’s nowhere to put batteries and no YouTube tutorials to tell us what to do. Place a balance board in front of a child, however, and watch the magic happen.
The rocking motion of the balance board is key when it comes to physical development. The vestibular (balance) system is tapped into and the child becomes more aware of their own physicality. Just like climbing trees, these simple movements are exciting and help with hand-eye coordination, balance and core strength.
The real wonder of the balance board is the possibility for open-ended play. With imagination and creativity, this toy can be anything. A train. A house. An airplane. A slide. A sailboat. A fishing net. A cradle. A rainbow. The capacity of children to experiment, craft, create and play is enhanced when we give them toys that they can manipulate to form part of their imagining. Too often we surround our children with toys that only have one possible pre-ordained purpose. A balance board not only enhances physical development but it also has cognitive and social benefits. This is a tool designed for play and engagement.
Creativity is a true 21st century skill. The ability to think outside the box and be creative promotes entrepreneurship and innovation in our children. A balance board can open up a world of play in your own backyard.