Some US classrooms are implementing a unique blend of academic learning and physical exercise. Bal-A-Vis-X (Balance/Auditory/Vision exercises) is a series of rhythmic physical exercises involving sandbags, racquetballs, and sometimes balance boards. Students participate in increasingly elaborate juggling exercises with themselves and each other. The program aims to help kids and others develop physical coordination and cooperation skills.
A Link Between Movement and Academics
An educator named Bill Hubert came up with the system in the 80s. At that time, Hubert was a first-grade teacher who had also worked as a martial arts instructor. “My martial arts experience enabled me to watch these 6-7 year-olds through the twin lessons of balance and rhythm,” Hubert recalled on the official Bal-A-Vis-X site.
While teaching, Hubert had come to realize children who had issues with physical skills often struggled academically, as well. Furthermore, he noticed these students’ academic performance improved as their physical skills did.
Hubert spent the next few decades inventing and fine-tuning physical exercises for single students or groups. The exercises often take the form of throwing and catching, sometimes upping the ante with standing on a balance board.
The exercises rely heavily on rhythm for structure, as the participants must pay attention to the sounds of balls or sandbags being bounced or caught to stay in sync.
Studies at various grade levels have shown improved performance in classes that used Bal-A-Vis-X. In addition to being beneficial in primary schools, research has shown the method to be helpful for older students, along with the elderly and people undergoing occupational or physical therapy.
According to Hubert, his organization has trained over 15,000 teachers and therapists to administer Bal-A-Vis-X. This training has taken place in 45 US states and parts of Europe and Asia.
“The number of students with whom these adults have subsequently used the program is unknown,” said Hubert, suggesting an even greater spread than the numbers indicate. With studies showing favorable results and positive word-of-mouth spreading, Bal-A-Vis-X could be making an appearance at your child’s school in the near future.