If you have any friends or family members who are public school teachers, you've likely heard them lament the dreaded fidget spinner. I've even seen memes published by teachers blasting the toy.
The truth is that fidget spinners are not new. They've been around for a while, primarily used by therapists and encouraged for kids with ADHD, autism, and anxiety disorders.
So which is true? Are these things the bane of teachers' existence or are they good therapeutic toys? The answer is both.
Like anything else, fidget spinners used in moderation can be a good thing for any child. Many kinesthetic learners, for example, may actually learn better while fidgeting. But when the fidget spinner becomes a distraction to learning, it's time to set some boundaries.
One of my sons has a lot of anxiety. Allowing him something to fidget with helps him to get that anxious energy out of his body so that he can focus on other things. As long as he appears to be paying attention still (i.e., can answer my questions, appears to be getting his work done), then I let him use whatever he wants to use to fidget. But when his fidgeting gets in the way of learning, that's when I set a boundary.
Many children like mine need this fidget activity. So, how do we set boundaries while still allowing them something to fidget with? When a fidget spinner, a fidget cube, or even his spinning chair become too distracting for my sons, I prohibit the use of that specific object for a while but then suggest that he get something else to fidget with. I keep a small box in our homeschool area just for this purpose. It includes nothing but small objects that my boys can use to fidget.
So, are fidget spinners a good or bad trend? Overall, I'd say they're good as long as they can be used to help focus a child's energy rather than distract from the task at hand. Just remember to set those boundaries before you allow them into your learning time.