A couple of weeks ago, after a quick trip to IKEA because I needed storage containers, I did a little impulse shopping. As we were walking through the store, I saw this balance beam set up. It looked cute and I had everyone try it out to be sure it was as sturdy and stable as it looked. It seemed to be. On a whim I decided to get it.
It has been set up in our kitchen for a couple of weeks now. (Excuse the mess of cars. This is a perpetual state here.)
The reason I succumbed to impulse shopping is that I hoped this would fill a need we had. When we were last at the neurologist, she asked H. to walk toe-heel-toe-heel, placing each foot directly in front of the other. She has come so far that I was surprised when this was a struggle for her. When I saw the balance beam I thought it would be the perfect tool to help with this skill.
It turns out to have been one of the best impulse buys I have ever made. Currently it is still living in the kitchen, but at least it doesn't take up much room, and it also means it gets fairly constant use. Here's my success story of the week for you. First, H. has not only learned to walk toe-heel-toe-heel easily, but she can also walk the balance beam backwards. This alone would warrant a success, but there is more.
Y. was very interested in watching everyone walk on it when we first put it together. When she tried, though, it was completely beyond her capabilities. Not only was balancing an issue, but just putting one leg up on the beam, much less use that leg to lift her whole body onto it was an impossibility. Y. was a little put out. The other day, I moved a kitchen chair near to the beam and had her use that to help balance. She has been working (being a wee bit competitive) on getting her leg on the beam, and with the help of the chair, is now able to lift herself up onto it. Yesterday, she balanced standing on it for the first time.
R. is very hesitant about it. Currently she has no interest in even trying it. It's just too scary. So, yesterday, I decided to spend some time helping her. Eventually, I was able to get her up and on it. She actually balanced for a second or so on her own. As I worked with her, I also discovered some other large motor skills that need to be developed and we worked on those, too. For instance, just stepping over the beam, is still a skill that she really needs to practice.
Right now, I'm thinking that it was a very wise investment, and after nearly constant use by some not-so-small people, it seems to be holding up extremely well.