My interest was piqued when my friend told me her 10-year-old has been begging for a fidget toy.
Apparently, fidget toys are all the rage and every kid wants one. Kids play with them in class and walk around with them at recess.
Created for children on the autism spectrum, these self-regulation putties, spinners, toys and gadgets are sensory tools that improve focus, listening and attention while having a calming effect.
Studies show they are helpful for restless students and those who have trouble focussing—the ones that get up to use the washroom every five minutes, sharpen their pencil or tap their feet until it becomes a distraction to others. Fidget tools are meant to put an end to distracting behaviour by redirecting a child's movements. With their left and right brains engaged by these toys, they are able to enhance their learning.
One fidget toy case study involved a sixth grade class in Georgia. When stress balls were given to students, the writing scores of the whole class improved from 73 percent to 83 percent. The results were more marked among students with ADHD, who showed a 27 percent improvement when stress balls were used.
These toys are small enough to fit in a pencil case so as not to be distracting in school. Yet some teachers are finding these gadgets very distracting in class. After all, if it's difficult for a child to understand how to use a toy discreetly these, it's only a matter of time before these toys create a distraction for their classmates.
It puts teachers in an uncomfortable position. Should they ban fidget toys? Discipline students who are distracted by them? Either way, they are bound to hear from parents no matter what they do.
Do your kids play with fidget toys? Do your child's teachers allow them in class? What are your child's favourite toys?