Spinners: Toy or tool? Arkansas students fidget their way to success

Fidget toys helping some students succeed

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Amanda Cazort wants to take away the stigma that spinners are just toys and make it known as a tool.

Cazort teaches students in a self-contained special needs classroom at Washington Elementary. She claims that spinners have helped some of her students, as some of her own students use spinners or other fidget devices. She said that because the spinner is weighted, it helps students focus and keeps them calm. She mostly lets students use them in settings where the whole class is doing something together, because it helps students listen to what she is saying.

For one of her students, it’s been a game changer.

“He is taking in more and retaining more of the information that I’m trying to get him to learn than he was before he had the fidget spinner,” said Cazort.

She said the goal of using the devices is to foster an environment where students can learn based on their needs. To her, it’s all about finding something that lets students exert their energy in a productive way instead of overreacting, having a nervous breakdown, or an anxiety attack. The spinner work best for students struggling with certain problems.

“It’s an option for any students that have a focus problem or an anxiety problem,” she said. “It can also help students with ADHD who really have a hard time sitting still in the chair and focusing on what the teacher is saying.”

Cazort wants to be clear that just because it works for some, that doesn’t mean that it’s good for everyone. That’s a decision that teachers, parents, and educators need to discuss.

“Not every kid needs one, and I think for some of my kids it would be far more of a distraction than it would be a help,” explained Cazort.

But it isn’t just spinners that are helping kids focus; it can be anything from a rubber band to a spiky ball. For Cazort, she also incorporates large rubber bands strapped at the base of her students’ chairs.

“They can kick those with their feet and that is not distracting at all,” she said. “It doesn't make a lot of noise and it manages to let them get some of the movement out so they sit still longer.”

At the end of the day, she said it's all about finding a way to think outside of the box and help students succeed.

“If it’s helping the student, then it’s probably not a bad thing; if it’s disrupting the learning, then maybe try a different avenue,” she said.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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