Over the years a number of fads have come and gone. One such fad is fidget spinners. Fidget spinners are marketed to children and parents as focusing aids. Well intentioned parents are purchasing these objects and sending them to school with their children. Unfortunately, the reality is that fidget spinners are distracting to learning.
Some of our students use tools that allow hands to be quietly in motion thereby helping them to focus their attention. Many different objects can be used for this purpose including small bits of modelling clay, squish balls or other tactile objects. Our teachers are very good at identifying which students could use this kind of strategy and providing options that are successful. The key to remember is that these objects are tools not toys. Our grade 1 and 2 teaches have a good way of distinguishing between a tool and a toy. "A tool is for learning and is intended to keep the eyes and brain open for learning." Indeed I have been present when teachers have reminded students to keep their eyes up even while they manipulate a tool in their hands. A toy on the other hand takes the students attention away from learning. A fidget spinner is not manipulated by the student it is simply watched while it spins. This is the primary reason that we do not recognize fidget spinners as an attention aid. It is our opinion as a staff that fidget spinners are toys not tools.
I am encouraging parents not to send these items to school as they are a distraction to learning and often create behavioral challenges in the classroom and on the playground. Further, the design of these spinners is varied. Some of them light up, others resemble weapons. Fidget spinners should be considered in the same category as other popular fads such as Pogs, Bey Blades, Pokemon Cards etc. They are fun to collect but don’t belong at school. As per our student handbook, teachers may collect these items and hold them for students until the end of the day, but the school is not responsible to ensure that they are not lost or stolen.
At Belfast we are always striving to make learning engaging for students. The essence of Arts Centered Learning is engagement through active participation and creative tasks. As teachers we are learning new techniques and strategies all the time. We are getting better each day at making sure that students are actively engaged in their learning rather than sitting for long periods of time waiting for their turn. That said, If you feel that your child needs an attentional aid at school please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher. We would be happy to collaborate with you to set your child up for success.