Fidget spinners seem to be everywhere — at the supermarket, online, at the gas station and, of course, attached to the hands of a number of youths right here in Arkansas City.
The general populace seems entranced by the colorful, spinning metallic objects.
Companies who manufacture fidget spinners claim they are supposed to help with ADHD, anxiety, autism and more. But there is no scientific evidence that they are effective as a treatment.
For some, having something for their hands to do while they are thinking or working on a problem can be beneficial.
However, it raises a question: Do fidget spinners have a place in the classroom, and is it possible that while they might be helpful to some, they simply are a distracting toy to others?
Ark City Daily Bytes reached out to several schoolteachers during the past week to find out how they feel about the popular items.
Keep in mind that these are only opinions of some individuals, and other teachers might feel differently.
With school starting soon, it may be necessary to check with your child’s teacher to see if they can have fidget spinners in the classroom.
Ann Headrick, an academic coach at Arkansas City Middle School, is open to the use of fidget spinners.
“I believe the spinners can be a good thing for some students who struggle staying focused,” she said. “The intention of the spinner is good, but many students have found just as much focus by tapping their finger against their pant leg. Many students who will have spinners may not necessarily need them.”
“However, teachers will have to very clear about their classroom expectations regarding spinners when school begins,” Headrick added, “just like they have to do with cell phones. … Classroom expectations will be key.”
Kali Vickery, an elementary school teacher in the Arkansas City Public School District, shared a opinion similar to Headrick’s.
“Honestly, they can be either (an effective treatment or a distraction), and that really depends on the student’s ability to use them for what they were created for — keeping fidgeting hands busy, to help you concentrate in the classroom,” she said.
“I think that the teacher themselves has to step up and make rules regarding the use of fidget spinners in their classroom. Even more, they need to enforce the rules consistently.”
An elementary art teacher for the district feels differently, citing the fidget spinners as toys.
“I am sure these were originally designed for a good purpose — to help those few children with difficulty focusing without constantly fidgeting,” said Amy Lawson, who teaches at C-4, Jefferson and Roosevelt. “The idea sounds good — in theory.”
Her contention is that while fidget spinners are marketed as a device that can help all students to concentrate, they have become a distraction in the classroom.
“I know that some enterprising teachers have put them to use in their classroom instruction, but as an art teacher with limited time to see my students, ‘fidget spinners’ are definitely not welcome in my classroom,” she said.
“My art students need to be paying attention to instruction, and then they need to be using their hands to produce artwork, not to flip and spin a handheld gyroscope.”
David Klish, a teacher for the Derby Public School District, shared his opinion, as well.
“Fidget spinners are a fad,” said the middle school teacher. “Generally, they do not bother me — I ignore them.”
“However, nine times out of 10, they are a distraction in the classroom. There is no data, (that) I am aware of, which supports the idea that fidget spinners help children focus.”
The age range Klish teaches ranges from 12 to 14 years old.
“At this age, students collect fidget spinners, take them apart and trade the components,” he said. “Students use them to do tricks and try to impress their friends.”
However, Klish conceded that the objects could be used for the purpose for which they are marketed. But he maintains his opinion on their appearance in a classroom.
“Possibly fidget spinners would help older, more mature students focus,” he said. “Bottom line is fidget spinners are a toy, nothing else, and don’t belong in the classroom.”
Fidget spinners policy?
USD 470 does not currently have a policy specifically addressing fidget spinners.
But Alisha Call, the school district’s public relations director, said they could fall under an existing policy.
“(They) could potentially fall under an ‘inappropriate use of materials brought to school’ discipline policy,” she said.
This policy states that “inappropriate items and/or materials that affect the learning environment of the classroom should not be brought to school.”
Depending on the classroom rules of specific teachers, fidget spinners easily could fall under this policy, which does have consequences, including possible confiscation of the item or material.
The policy also states that “the school will assume no responsibility for items that are damaged or stolen at school.”
As always, parents should check with their student’s individual teachers to understand their specific classroom rules.