by Tracy Allen
You can't walk down a middle school hallway these days without seeing a student with a spinning fidget spinner in his or her hand. Along with it's colleague homemade slime, fidget spinners have become the rage to find, trade and share between classmates. Originally deemed as worthy tactile toys to help maintain the focus of students primarily with ADHD, fidget toys are supposed to provide the constant movement needed in order for fixed focus on lessons and classwork (though there are mixed feelings about the effectiveness of these toys). Why then would such a tool be making news headlines? Simply put, sales are high, and with a growing negative response from teachers, the debate over spinners is on.
Spinners are being marketed as beneficial to the learning of the nation's large number of students diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety. Spinners, according to the students, are also fun and provide seemingly quiet ways for students to play during class. All students learn differently. Some need the additional stimulation of the spinning toy but most do not. Students are becoming lost in the competition of finding the newest and coolest spinner or the smallest and thus less likely to get caught by the teacher spinner instead of the having it for its intended purpose. It was a quiet small strategy and now it's a loud buzzing badge of honor. Teachers recognize that a sensory diet is one way to even the playing field in the classroom, but right now it's the teachers' heads that are spinning from trying to keep a room full of students on task. I would encourage families to have a discussion on the necessity and use of a spinner in school. However, don't be surprised if your student starts entering toy-free learning zones.