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Fidget spinners: the pros and cons, a learning expert weighs in

Fidget spinners: the pros and cons, a learning expert weighs in

eaton arrowsmithIn case you’ve been living in a cave for the last few months, you probably know of, own, or are looking for a fidget spinner for your spinner crazed kid. This supposed calm-inducing toy du jour, has lovers and haters! We asked an expert for his take on this phenom.

But first, here’s some condensed feedback from parents on the Vancouver Mom Facebook page: 

We have three fidget spinners, and they [the kids and husband!) all love it. I have banned my son from taking it to school, but I don’t see the harm of him having one … ~ Heydy Lopez

What a silly toy! Kids need time to relax their minds, this just reinforces to always keep occupied!” ~ Alison Tetreault

My oldest has anxiety and would actually benefit for this as she requires something in her hands when she starts getting anxious ….” ~ Janette Shearer

I saw a post from a parent about her daughter playing with a fidget spinner and had it too close to her face .. the poor girl chipped her front tooth.” ~ Dee Poon

We asked Simon Hayes, the Principal at Eaton Arrowsmith, a school that specializes in learning difficulties to weigh on on the current craze.

Do you use them at Eaton Arrowsmith?

The students definitely have them around the school. It is more of a parent bought and student-initiated situation. We have not purchased any, but we are also not banning them as they provide an ability for our students to devote even more engagement to their cognitive exercises. Our students attend EA, however, to strengthen their capacity to pay attention at a neurological level, rather than to depend on work arounds like fidget spinners that compensate for attention difficulties. Getting to the root of attention difficulties strengthens one’s ability to focus for life, as opposed to the need to rely on an external tool to do so.

What is their value to students with particular learning or attention issues? 

I think there is definitely value to them when kids are sitting and working. I would argue that they create a level of distraction though that wasn’t present in classrooms before the quick rise to popularity. I have been fascinated by the number of options already on the market. I just spoke with a student who bought a really nice gold one that offered more flash factor than the regular black ones. Even in fidget spinnersthis, there seems to be competition growing within the various types you can buy for your child. fidget spinners

When you make the comparison to technology and the distraction of phones in the classroom, which is a really challenging situation in larger schools, perhaps this isn’t too bad to manage.

What do you make of the current craze around fidget spinners? 

There is no doubt that spinners are intriguing and fun to play with. The kids are becoming more and more inventive in how they balance them or put different objects on them while they are spinning. I know there are a lot of YouTube videos showing different ways to spin them. This is where the distraction can become a classroom management challenge.

Is there a downside to the use of fidget spinners as a toy outside the classroom?

I don’t really see a downside that would prevent anyone from buying their child one if it is used outside of the classroom. However, I did watch one student attempt to spin it near his mouth and he chipped his tooth with it. Losing one could also be heartbreaking if a child leaves it somewhere such as the park.

Are there upsides for students to use fidget spinners?

On the upside, they are quiet and much less distracting than tapping a pen on a table.  You can definitely spin them and listen at the same time. I would caution that they can equally create distraction with friends in class if everyone has one. Ultimately it comes down to the responsibility of the child and their ability to play with it appropriately.

This post is sponsored by one of our community builders, Eaton Arrowsmith

At Eaton Arrowsmith we teach our students a series of exercises to help them strengthen their brains and address the cognitive weaknesses that cause their specific learning difficulties. We operate on the principle of neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to be strengthened over time with targeted training. This sets us apart from other learning intervention programs.

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