Fidget Spinners are nothing new in this house. In fact one might say that we have enough fidgets in our house to arm an entire fidgeting army. So you can imagine my excitement when I started to see fidgets being used by the neighbor across the street, by the kid in this grocery store, and in almost every classroom in America. But just like any trend that children get excited about (you know slime, Pokemon go, unicorn drinks) for some reason, adults instantaneously freak out, find all of the negatives about the trend, and ruin it for the kids.
This morning alone I saw five different articles about why fidget spinners are ruining our world. One article went so far as to say that fidget spinners are killing America. Are you kidding me? A teeny tiny plastic tool is going to be the demise of America. Is that really our biggest problem that we have right now?
Could they have some valid points? Maybe there really is a valid reason why we should ban fidget Spinners from every school in America.
As a national board certified Early Childhood teacher and a parent that has spent the last five years researching sensory processing, the benefits of sensory play and fidgets, I have to say I’m actually appalled.
I could go on and on and tell you all of the benefits of the newly famous fidget spinner, but you might not listen to me. You see, every time I introduce a fidget, a sensory tool, or a new sensory strategy that could help a kid who struggles with focus, attention, and mind wandering (God forbid their mind wanders and they dream of far-off places where anything is possible) I am always met with the “yeah but” argument. So today I’ve decided to face them head-on.
Here are the top 5 reasons fidget spinners should be banned in every classroom in America…
Number 1: Kids are just using fidget spinners as toys
Seriously, so what if our kids are just using these as toys?
Don’t you get excited every time you get that new gadget? I just got a new Fitbit last night for my birthday and goodness… I can’t stop playing with the thing. I know what’s going to happen when I tap the screen, yet, I’m immediately drawn to it…
Tap, tap, tap… yep, still says the same thing.
30 minutes later… check the app.
30 minutes later… tilt my wrists and watch the light magically turn on.
There’s something magical to getting something new. We want to investigate it. We want to learn about it. We want to figure out it’s ins-and-outs and decipher exactly how it’s going to be useful in our life.
Plus, we just want to have fun.
So if my kid decides his fidget spinner should be spun on his finger, on his nose, or on his toe… I don’t really care. In fact, he just informed me this morning he can spin it on his tongue. What in the world? But honestly, I’m kind of amazed that he can balance this teeny tiny alien shaped thing on every body part possible.
Number 2: Fidget spinners are distracting in the classroom
Yes they are. I am not going to argue that they are not a distraction. I am not going to pretend that if an entire classroom of ten year olds came into my room whirring these teeny tiny things that I wouldn’t want to lose my ever-loving mind.
But, if I remember correctly from my days in the classroom, I was a pretty good teacher. That meant that I had amazing classroom management skills. If we were presented with a problem… let’s say kids using a new tool in an inappropriate way, we would bring it up during our class meeting.
Here’s how this would go down today.
I would say… “Hey you’re being annoying.”
Okay, I wouldn’t say it like that. Let’s start over.
“Hey guys, I noticed lately some of you are using fidget spinners and that is awesome.
Unfortunately, some of you are using them when we shouldn’t, having balancing contests during tests or you’re throwing them at my head while I’m teaching… these are all bad ideas.
So, how can we solve this problem?”
You see, I would give the problem back to the kids and guess what?
The kids would help me come up with a solution. I know they would tell me that we should come up with designated times that the fidget spinners would be available (if this was needed).
They would tell me we need to come up with a class set of rules on how to use this fidget spinners. Things like …
Fidgit Spinners must stay in our pocket.
Fidget Spinners must stay in our hands.
Fidget spinners should not fly across the room.
Amazing, right? If we give kids the chance, they’re actually pretty brilliant.
So can fidget spinners be a distraction?
Can good teachers help their children learn when and when it’s not appropriate to spin their fidget spinner on their nose?
I sure hope so.
Number 3: Not all kids need fidget spinners
How do you know?
Seriously! How do you know that every kid in America does not need a fidget?
When you were in school, did you not tap your pencil on your desk? Did you not have kids in your class that leaned back in their chair so far that they fell over and hit their head on the desk behind them? When you’re sitting in your boardroom meetings, do you not have people at the table that are tapping their their feet so much that it shakes the table?
Stop what you’re doing right now.
Look up from your screen.
Look around you. Out of the people that you see… how many of those people are picking their nails? chewing their fingernails? rubbing a piece of clothing? twiddling their hair? chewing bubble gum? or using their hands to talk?
You see, the problem in America is not that all of the sudden kids need to use fidgets to focus.
The problem is that it’s never been recognized before.
Now, let’s talk about those kids that need them (the ones that can’t sit still in the classroom) … the ones that you’re so worried about alienating if you ban fidget spinners or any other tool that the kids suddenly get excited about.
You are going to alienate the kids that you are worried about most. Their constant need to move their hands, fiddle with their fingers, or tap their pink pencil is now the norm. Give them that. They deserve it.
They waited a long time for this.
They get to feel like everybody else and do you really want to take that away from them?
Oh, and don’t worry. The kids that “really” need it won’t care that the trend fades and fidget spinners hit the trash cans across America in a few weeks. Why? Because they need them and they’ve finally found something that helps.
Number 4: There’s no real evidence that fidget spinners help kids with Autism, ADHD, and other special needs
Are you freaking kidding me ?
How long do we have together today?
How many articles can I link to before you get sick of me linking to the benefits of fidgeting for focus and attention?
Not to mention the numerous articles that I could share that are going to point to the benefits of stimming for kids that have ADHD, autism, or other differently wired brains.
Just a few weeks ago the whole world was up in arms over how deadly slime is, how terribly messy and annoying slime is, and how there can’t possibly be a benefit to this ooey gooey substance that all our kids are infatuated with.
I call BS.
Why do we keep ruining the things that are amazing for our kids?
Why do we keep looking for death and destruction in every teeny tiny little thing?
People always say “Well, when I was a kid there wasn’t so much ADHD, autism, and sensory processing disorder. We just called those kids brats.”
You know what I call those kids… misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and MISSED, completely missed.
We owe it to our kids today that are screaming in our face and telling us that they need things like slime, bouncy seats, balls and fidget spinners in their classroom. Don’t even get me started on why I think they need all of these things. I could go on for hours and hours.
Number 5: Fidget spinners shouldn’t even be needed.
Amen sista! Seriously, I hear your argument that kids need recess. They need to move. They need to wiggle and play and be kids. They need lots of things that we are not giving them in the modern day classroom but that is for a completely different post.
Here’s the thing though, we are not giving kids these things. How many articles have you read about the importance of extended recess, later start times, and more active and engaged learning? Yet, year after year, after year, we add on more and more tests. We put more restraints on the teachers and the students. We add more after-school activities.
And for the kids who are falling behind, we tell them to add more hours of tutoring to their day, come to school a few minutes early to get extra support or practice a little more at home.
Don’t even get me started on the kids who are acting out in class (probably throwing Spinners at their teachers heads). What do we do with these kids? We take away their recess.
I wish I could say that the problem was just recess. I wish I could tell you that if kids played more, jumped more, ran more and were kids more, all of this would go away. But, that would be foolish.
Many kids that need fidgets, bouncy balls, and movement in the classroom are wired differently and when we, as a society, can realize that there are many children and people among us every single day that think and act differently than we do, we won’t care if the new fad is slime or fidget spinners or hacky sacks.
So I guess I am just left with one more question?
Do you still think that we should ban fidget spinners in every school in America? Why or why not?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tell me on Facebook! Since this post is going viral, I will be hopping on my Facebook page later to talk all about the pros and cons of allowing fidgets in schools. Be sure to follow so you can join the conversation.
So many people have asked for resources for teaching and loving fidgety kids, so I have gathered some of my favorite posts about supporting sensory needs in the classroom (and at home) for you:
RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE ABOUT FIDGETING
Sensory Hacks to Focus a Fidgety Child
The REAL Reason Kids Can’t Sit Still
100 Sensory Strategies for the Classroom
How to Introduce Fidgets in the Classroom
The REAL Reason Kids Fidget
How to Teach a Fidgety Child
A Letter to the Teacher From “That Kid” (The Fidgety, Can’t Sit Still, Meltdown Having Kid)
Many people have also mentioned that fidget spinners are too loud, too annoying and just toys. There are tons of other options out there if you are in the mood to try fidgets but want to stay clear of a fad. I plan to write a whole list, but for now here are a few to get you started!
FIDGETS THAT AREN’T ANNOYING
The Fidget Fix (5 awesome fidgets for a super low cost)
DIY Stress Balls
Rubber Bands (Yes, the same rubber bands you keep on your wrists)
Calming Slime (Yes, I’m scared of all the slime haters… but it’s a great tool)
Totally Rad DIY Fidget Spinners
I could seriously go on and on. I have over 100 calm down tools and strategies you can use to help ALL kids focus and feel successful. Take this as a chance to try new things.
Oh, and while you are here. If you are looking for more ways to engage your wiggly kids, provide support for your disorganized kiddo, or simply want to take all the frustration out of your day with your little one and you know a kid with hidden “super powers” … you will want to check out my new book coming out in August, The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day (Awesome Games and Crafts to Master Your Moods, Boost Focus, Hack Mealtimes and Help Grownups Understand Why You Do the Things You Do)!
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