Are schools right to ban fidget spinners?

They were created to help develop fine motor skills for children with special needs, but more and more schools are saying no to them. Fair or not?

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In case you’ve not heard of them, fidget spinners are little hand-held gadgets that were originally designed to help children with autism and ADHD to concentrate at school.

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The idea behind them is that, as kids spin and flip them, they are able to focus more clearly on the words they’re hearing and the lesson they’re in.

Fidget spinners – and other hand-held fidget toys like them – have actually been around for years but, over recent weeks, they’ve become a bit of a playground ‘thing’ and loads of children are now taking them into school.

And, as often happens with playground crazes, schools are now choosing to ban them.

Good idea? Probably not, says Sean Chapman, who has been working for 8 years with children who have special educational needs. He says he’s seen first-hand how the spinners can help at school. 

“I am a huge advocate of the toys, as they help to improve concentration – meaning less class disruption – and fine motor skills,” he told the Liverpool Echo.

“Fidget toys have a place in school but not unconditionally. They are a privilege and an important one to children to aid their learning. All privileges can be removed if they are abused– but not universally.”

And we have to say, when we shared on our Facebook page a story about how schools were banning these handy little twirlers (see how they spin in our video, below), you had a LOT to say – on both sides of the argument.

“They are designed for children with ADHD/ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). I think they should be kept that way before schools decide to ban them,” says Emma M

Natalie A agrees: “You don’t need to have a diagnosed condition [to find these helpful]. There are different learning styles and, even as a fully grown adult, I absorb information much better on work courses if I’m fiddling or doodling. It’s called kinesthetic learning.”

Debbie F says: “My eldest takes one into school (he has ADHD) and it really helps him concentrate and stops him distracting other students.”

Cat L reckons as long as they’re being used by kids who need them, and in a sensible way, they’re great. “If they are under a desk and not distracting the teaching and learning of other students, then fine; the concern is when gadgets like this become a fashion fad and have students doing tricks with them, rather then helping students who find it hard to concentrate.”

Rachel C has a similar take – that they’re good for some kids, but not everyone should have free rein to bring them in: “They are arriving in swarms in the school I work in. They are a nightmare.

“They aren’t stopping children from fidgeting; they are distracting them and causing arguments.

“They may have a small therapeutic use with a limited number of children but they should not be in a classroom for all children. If it wasn’t ‘prescribed’ by an occupational therapist, they should not be in the classroom.”

Some of you made the point that fidget spinner are great for kids AND adults but not at school. Jodie J tells us: “My children – and my husband – have one of these and they love them. My daughter can sit for ages just spinning it.

“However, I don’t let her take it to school. It does stay at home because, at school, she should be concentrating on her school work and not playing with this.”

And others of you reckon they’re totally unhelpful altogether. Laura A says: “These fidget spinners are annoying and becoming a must-have gadget: kids want to jump on the bandwagon.

“They’re not helping children focus; they are having the opposite effect!”

What do you think?

Do you know a child who has benefitted from using a fidget spinner? Or do you think it’s a fad and schools are right to ban them? Tell us in the comments below or over on Facebook

Photo: Addictive Fidget Toys

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