As a teacher in an emotionally disturbed self-contained classroom, I am very open to fidget spinners and other tools that help my students focus and retain that focus. Some of my colleagues see these tools as toys and do not allow them in their classroom. However, I believe this is because little is understood about what fidget tools are and how they can be beneficial to students.
The Art Of Fidget Spinners In Special Ed;
What are fidgets?
Fidgets help with focus, attention, calming and active listening. Fidgets are not just fidget spinners; they can come in all different shapes sizes and even texture. Some of the most common fidgets include stress balls, fidget cubes, fidget spinners, toys with different textures, and fidgets that promote movement.
How do fidgets help?
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Fidgets can help activate the left and right hemisphere of the brain. This is critical to help a child be active and engaged in their learning. If you are worried about the fidget becoming a toy in your classroom or home, set clear expectations about fidgets and practice those expectations so your child understands what is expected of them when having a fidget. If they are not able to follow this expectation, limit the use of the fidget tool or reiterate the rules so the child understands the rules of the fidget.
Who should you be giving fidgets to?
As a teacher, I am able to point out the students that are restless, frequently sharpening their pencil, tapping their pencil or feet, or using the bathroom multiple times during one lesson. These children’s behavior affects the learning of others and also affects their productivity in the classroom.
As a parent, getting a concerned phone call from a teacher, or noticing restless behavior during a tutoring session may be indicative of the need for a fidget tool.
Where is the research?
A research paper published in Child Neuropsychology (2015), took a look at 44 kids between the ages of 10 and 17, 26 of the participants were diagnosed with ADHD and 18 without. Each participant wore a lactometer on their ankle to measure activity, the study concluded, “Within-group, children with ADHD generated higher intensity movements in their correct trials compared to their error trials, whereas the TD [typically developed] group did not demonstrate any within-group differences.” In other words, the kids with ADHD performed better when they fidgeted than the kids without ADHD.
In another case study conducted in a sixth grade classroom in Georgia, the positive effects of fidgets were well observed. Academically, the students showed growth in scholastic achievement when stress balls were utilized. The average writing score of the class increased from 73% without stress balls to 83% with the use of stress balls. In addition, the student with a medical diagnosis of ADHD showed the most progress with an increase of 27% on a writing sample (Stalvey & Brasell, 2006).
Fidgets are a tool that can be beneficial to students that may be unable to focus and can be distracted easily. Using a fidget at home or in the classroom could increase productivity and help with unwanted behaviors.
What has been your experience with fidget spinners? Please comment below!
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