There’s been a lot of debate since the rise of the fidget spinner trend if fidget toys do more harm then good. Are they really helpful for focusing children? In alleviating ADHD symptoms? Or are they just disruptions?
Well here’s the why, how and what of fidget toys for the classroom. Why kids can’t focus, how fidget toys help, and what fidget toy is best for your child’s classroom.
Why Kid’s Aren’t Focusing In Class
If you ask your child they’ll probably tell you it’s because class is boring but it’s a lot more complicated than that.
ADHD – or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – is the most common mental condition for children today. It stands at a whopping 8-10% percent of children affected in the U.S.A, making it a serious issue.
As its name suggests, ADHD is the inability to focus due to over activity of the brain. They may have a hard time focusing on projects, become overwhelmed in crowds, be unable to follow simple instructions, or even simply sit still while listening or otherwise not moving.
But it’s not just children suffering from ADHD that have a hard time focusing in class.
Kid’s in general have a lot going on in their brains as they are developing quickly. This can lead to confusion and inattention during tasks, even in the most minor of cases.
If you feel your child might be suffering from ADHD, ADD, or other focusing issues it’s always best to reach out to your physician.
How Fidget Toys Help
So if you’re child does have ADHD or simply has a hard time focusing, you might be thinking of ways to soothe symptoms without medication. To be clear, medication is still the best method to treat ADHD and you should always go to your physician first before trying anything new.
However, fidget toys benefits come from tackling one major aspect of ADHD: fidgeting.
Fidget toys won’t necessarily have your child focusing right away, but it can help their brain work better. Fidgeting itself – or small movements of the body – have actually been proven to increase dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that creates happy feelings in the brain. It’s created naturally when someone is in love or extremely happy. Norepinephrine is a hormone and neurotransmitter as well which essentially works to “turn on” the brain and get ready to work.
Both of these chemicals are also present in ADHD medication, although in higher volumes.
This means that the act of fidgeting actually helps to subside symptoms of ADHD and help activate a child’s brain.
The main reason that fidget toys are helpful instead of just tapping fingers or chewing nails is that they also tend to require problem solving (in some) or multitasking. Both of these two things activate areas of the brain that are useful in retaining information and can be very beneficial in classroom learning.
Which Fidget Toys Work Best
So not every fidget toy is alike, and some are better for the classroom than others. So which one should you seek out for your child?
1. The Fidget Spinner
The fidget spinner has by far become the most popular classroom toy as of late. There’s been a lot of conversation even on whether fidget toys are more of a distraction than an aide. Because of it’s mass popularity, many teacher’s have felt that children who play with fidget spinners in class aren’t using it for ADHD purposes, but simply as a toy. It’s something to consider that perhaps a less popular toy might fit your needs better in the classroom and keep the spinner for at home.
2. The Fidget Cube
Not as widely popular as the fidget spinner, the fidget cube has become a close second in the trend.The cube is either 6- or 12-sided with different fidgeting type functions on each side. The user clicks buttons, rolls metal balls, turns on and off a switch, and more to stimulate those healthy brain chemicals. The cube is especially good in classrooms as it’s small and not intrusive and makes only a quiet clicking noise at times. Because it involves thought process, it also counts as multitasking to activate another part of a child’s brain.
3. Kneaded Erasers
This one is less known but super functional for the classroom. It’s essentially an eraser that is almost puddy-like in feeling giving the child the ability to mold it in their hands over and over. It’s great because it’s small and easy to use, but also serves a purpose in a traditional classroom.
4. Stretchy Marble Toy
One that can be bought online or in stores is a stretchy contraption made of mesh and a marble inside. It’s around the size of a pen and can be played with endlessly. It’s small size and relatively unassuming nature make it great for a distraction-free classroom.
What fidget toys work best for your classroom? Let us know in the comments!