Posted Date: 09/01/2017
Fidgets for Kids
By Kelli Holthaus, Special Educator
This past spring our country was swept up in the “Fidget Spinner” Craze. All the kids had them, and those who did not have the little spinny wheels, wanted them. As an educator for children with special needs, I have a different view than most teachers on fidget toys. For the most part, typically developing children really don’t need fidgets to help them learn; in fact they can be a huge distraction, not only for the child, but also for their class. However, there are some students who can be helped by providing a sensory activity during their learning or during sensory breaks. Sensory needs can be met through providing activities that stimulate the tactile, visual, auditory, and olfactory (sense of smell) needs. Once these needs are met, learning can occur.
“Does my child really need it?” Well great question! Watch your child and what he does during his free time. Does he sit quietly at home while he reads or eats? Is he constantly putting items in his mouth to chew or suck on? Does he tend to flittle with pencils as he concentrates during activities? By observing what a child does ,when he’s concentrating, you may answer your question about his learning needs. Providing a similar activity at school may also help. Remember though that your child’s needs can not infringe on the learning of other children around him. So talk to your child and his teacher about his learning needs. Don’t forget to also consult with your child’s doctor.
I have included some of the fidgets, I keep on hand for student use in my own room. Small bits of textured fabric to feel. Stress balls and stretchy exercise bands can flex itchy muscles. Noticed in my fidget box toys, there’s no spinners!
We all learn in different ways, so embrace your child and how he learns best.