What is a Fidget Toy?
Fidget Toys are self-regulation tools to help with focus, attention, calming, and active listening. The toys come in all different shapes, sizes, and textures and are often referred to by various different names. Stress balls, tangles, and squigglets can all be used as fidget toys to promote movement and tactile input that is critical for some student's learning.
Is it just for children?
Nope. Sometimes you can hand it to your anxious co-worker in a meeting who won't stop spinning in their chair. But, as teachers, we have all seen that restless child that can't focus without tapping their foot, peeling at sticker, chewing on a sweatshirt string. It might seem like the child is misbehaving or not listening, but they could be just having a hard time focusing. The child can be hindering his or her own learning and productivity is impeded by their short attention.
How does it help?
So, what does a fidget tool do? Research shows that engery can be redirected so that a child can then focus on the schoolwork! it comes down to a child using both the left and right side of their brain which makes them settle and enhance learning. In addition to research confirming the importance of movement and sensory input while learning, learning is enhanced when fidgets are introduced, as documented through case studies and a comprehensive understanding of human cognition and student learning. One case study, conducted in a 6th grade classroom, the positive effects of fidget toys were well observed. The students showed growth in comprehension and understanding when the fidget toys and stress balls were implemented. The average writing score of the class increased from 73% without stress balls to 83% with the use of stress balls. In addition, the student with a medical diagnosis of ADHD showed the most progress with an increase of 27% on a writing sample (Stalvey & Brasell, 2006).