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Teachers can’t have failed to notice how fidget spinners have become the latest craze among kids. The palm-sized gadgets were created to help youngsters with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder relieve stress. The idea is that by spinning and flipping them, children with these conditions can focus better on the words they hear. However, the fact they have become a must-have item among pupils has made them a bit of a nuisance to teachers and many schools have banned fidget spinners outright. But could teachers try a different approach and incorporate the craze into their lessons?

Opportunity for learning
Castle Gardens Primary School in Newtownards, County Down is a great example of a school that has let fidget spinners stay in the classroom. Primary Four teacher Heather Hutchinson began promoting their use in lessons after the children expressed curiosity about whose spinner would spin the longest. This triggered the idea of carrying out a maths investigation, with the kids timing each other’s spins, recording them on a table and plotting the data on a graph. ‘It was an opportunity for something a bit different with their learning,’ Ms Hutchinson said.

Fidget spinners were also brought into English lessons, with pupils being given the chance to debate whether or not they should be allowed in the class and then writing their viewpoints down. Speaking to BBC News, she said: ‘These crazes come into school and you either go with them or they’re a complete annoyance.’

Improve concentration
Sean Chapman, who has worked with children with special educational needs for 8 years, describes himself as a ‘huge advocate’ of fidget spinners, as they help to boost concentration. Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, he said this means they help minimise disruption in class. Furthermore, he noted that fidget spinners can help to improve youngsters’ motor skills.

However, Mr Chapman agrees that their use in class should be regarded as ‘a privilege’ and an important one to children to aid their learning. All privileges can be removed if they are abused – but not universally,’ he commented. ‘Fidget toys have a place in school but not unconditionally.’

Stick to strict rules
Ms Hutchinson agrees that restrictions on the use of fidget spinners in class need to be in place. That’s why she only hands them out for certain lessons, so they don’t prove a genuine distraction at other times. Principal John Gray backs this approach, saying: ‘We wouldn’t use them for every lesson. It would be the occasional opportunity to use them in a numeracy or literacy lesson to engage the children in activities they would be doing anyway. If you’re interested in doing something, you’re learning that much more. If the children are engaged and enthusiastic about something, the quality of learning will be higher,’ he said.

Done well, incorporating fidget spinners into lessons could be a great way of managing and preventing a potential nuisance in the classroom, and getting the most out of kids at the same time.


Sources/Further Reading
Are schools right to ban fidget spinners? Made for Mums
Fidget spinners aid teaching in Newtownards school BBC News