May 11, 2017

Fidgeting Toys...Fidgeting Kids


Did you ever hear this as a child?  Stop fidgeting!  I did.  All the time.  It seemed I always had plenty of extra energy that needed to be directed somewhere.  And so I fidgeted, whether it was moving around myself, playing with a toy or touching something.   

Fidgeting seems to have gotten a negative connotation and I'm not sure that's really fair.  Research shows when a child fidgets, he or she is often seeking more sensory input.  And for many kids, the more neurological input they get, they more alert and organized their minds can be.

"Fidget toys" are based on this and were created to provide just the right amount of sensory input that can help improve kids' concentration and attention to tasks.  When a child has a toy in their hands, it can help them filter out excess sensory information in their surroundings and in their own body.  Research shows that small repetitive activities can increase the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain in a way that increases a person's ability to focus and pay attention.  In short, fidgeting toys can help kids focus.

At first, fidget toys were primarily used to help children with ADHD or autism focus in classes.  But recently, the fidget toy craze has caught on among all kids.  Now it's "cool" to have a fidget toy.  Stores are quickly selling out of them.  Millions of Spinzipz stack-able spinners are being shipped to Target, Toys R' Us and Walmart to keep up with the demand.  On YouTube, fidget toys have taken off as well.  One channel dedicated to the trend has already amassed over 11,000 subscribers and over 2 million views per video.

A positive part of fidget toys is that it helps children with ADHD and autism feel more included and less isolated.  But at the same time,  schools are grappling with which kids should be allowed to use fidget toys.

One thing is for sure.  Kids are wired to move.  When we make them sit still and quietly listen to a talking head for extended periods of time, we lose them.  It's important to allow kids to learn the way they learn best...through hands on, active learning.  The more kids move, the more they learn.  The more kids are allowed to participate in the learning process, the more they engage.  The more kids are allowed to ask questions, talk and discuss, the more they will remember.  Bottom line...it's time we cease telling kids to "stop fidgeting" and redirect their fidgeting to effective learning techniques that incorporate their fidgeting rather than trying to eliminate it.

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