How Fidgets Can Help Students Focus

By Erika Hanson | Published

fidgets

Students today are more anxious than ever. On top of that, children are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at record levels. Add these two factors into a classroom setting, and many teachers and parents report struggling to keep students engaged during lessons. But there is a popular growing trend used as a tool that can help with this struggle, known as fidgets.

To children, they look like a toy. To some educators, they are a nuisance and a distraction. But to teachers that have mastered how to properly equip students with fidgets in a manner that helps them succeed and focus on the task at hand, they are a great classroom tool. With proven benefits, fidgets can aid teachers in the classroom, but picking out the best types, and knowing when to pull them from use is key to their success. 

Fidgets have been a growing trend among kids over the last few years. They can be bought relatively cheap, and are a fun way for kids to keep their hands busy. While seemingly just a fad, these small tools are proven to calm, relax, and focus the mind. 

Anxiety and depression have skyrocketed among adolescents since the onset of the pandemic. Fidgets can help children cope with these mental health struggles. Children with anxiety tend to become restless and need constant movement, which can cause distraction in the classroom for themselves and their peers. Fidgets can give them an outlet for that feeling of needed movement – especially if the class is working on an activity that may cause overstimulation. 

Similarly, students with ADHD can benefit from fidget use. While there are few scientific studies available to date discussing the possible benefits of these tools, one 2015 study concluded that those who suffer from ADHD will often “fidget” their bodies out of an effort to increase their attention and alertness. The right fidget could be a great tool to help these students stay focused.

There is a fine line between fidgets being useful in the classroom, and a distraction. First and foremost, the perfect classroom fidget ideally is quiet, and near unnoticeable to others. While vending machines offer children brightly colored neon light flashing fidgets, ones that don’t draw attention are best. They don’t even have to be fidgets that kids are accustomed to seeing marketed at the store. The ones that work best in the classroom can come in the form of stress balls, yarn to play with, or rubbery finger springs.

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Above all, understanding when and how to use fidgets in the classroom will keep them proving their worth. According to a report from Edutopia, once a child is introduced to a certain fidget, teachers should do their best to evaluate its use, and see if it is effective in keeping the student-focused. The key here is to make the student realize that it isn’t a toy, and isn’t for use all day long, but only in times of increased anxiety or reluctance. 

Fidgets aren’t successful in all classroom settings. It is important for educators to assess each situation in order to decide whether or not introducing the tools will help their students, or be more of a bother. But as more teachers report concerns over keeping children stimulated in the classroom, proper use of these “toys” can go a long way.