Save 30% on select fidgets, weighted toys, and other sensory supports! Now through October 29th!
This week, Different Roads is proud to share some tips from Nancy Hammill and Understood on the dos and don’ts of fidgets, both in the classroom and at home!
Fidgets, like squeeze balls and key chains, are self-regulation tools that promote movement and tactile input. They can be great for kids who struggle with attention, focus and sensory processing.
But in my many years as a teacher and parent, I’ve often seen them misused. When I see a child throw a squeeze ball across the room or obsess over making shapes out of Silly Putty, I know something’s gone wrong.
The problem is we often hand fidgets to kids without any direction, thinking they’ll magically know how to use them. Then when they play with them—rather than use them as a tool—we get angry.
That’s why it’s important to teach kids how to use fidgets. Here’s what I suggest.
First, explain to your child that a fidget is one strategy in her “tool kit” to help her improve focus on a task. When used correctly in the right situation, fidgets can help her be a better listener, sustain attention on her work, and even calm down or slow down her body and mind.
Basically, a fidget is a tool to help her focus—not a toy.
Second, work with your child to identify specific times she might need a fidget. For example, she might need it when she’s doing homework or needs to sit still in a movie theater.
Third, set up clear rules for how to use fidgets in your home, and communicate them to your child. If you’re unsure where to start, here are my “non-negotiables”:
Rule #1: Be mindful. Before you grab a fidget, think about whether you need it. If you don’t know, review rule #2.
Rule #2: You can only use a fidget to help with focus and attention or to calm down. Otherwise it will be taken away.
Rule #3: Don’t use a fidget if it distracts others or interferes with the work others are doing. If the fidget does distract others or interfere with their work, use a different fidget or strategy.
Rule #4: Every time you’re done with a fidget, put it back where it belongs. (In our house, we keep fidgets in a designated basket.)
If you want to try a fidget with your child, there are many options to choose from. Experiment to find what works best for your child. But I recommend that you don’t get a fidget that has a cute face or that looks like a toy. Your child needs to remember that fidgets are tools.
When you’re ready, you can set up a fidget basket (or other spot), print the rules, and put the rules in a place where your child can easily see and review them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy Hammill is the 2016 National Learning Disabilities Educator of the Year, awarded by Understood founding partner the Learning Disabilities Association of America. She has 20 years of experience as a classroom teacher, literacy specialist and learning therapist.
About Understood: The professionals who advise parents on Understood are all experts in their fields. They include educators, learning and attention specialists, physicians, psychologists, lawyers and more. They share a commitment to children with learning and attention issues.
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*Promotion is valid until April 3, 2017 at 11:59pm ET. Offer cannot be applied to previous purchases, combined with any other offers, transferred, refunded, or redeemed and/or exchanged for cash or credit. Different Roads to Learning reserves the right to change or cancel this promotion at any time. To redeem offer at differentroads.com, enter promo code FIDGETS17 at checkout.
Maintaining calm and focus can be a challenge in a busy classroom. Our solution? Help reduce fidgeting and reward good behaviors with these sensory tools for staying calm and focused: the Fidgets Kit and Reinforcer Kit. For this week’s Pick Of The Week, save 20% on these items by using promo code FOCUS20 at checkout.
Fidget toys can be a great and socially acceptable management tool for stereotypical or repetitive behavior in the classroom or community that may be distracting to classmates. While there are many reasons for fidgeting, including sensory overload, boredom, frustration, or anything in between, the good thing is that it can be easily managed. Some students find the repetitive action of “fidgeting” to be calming; thus, they are then better able to focus on the task at hand. Created in conjunction with our behavioral consultant Stacy Asay, LMSW, our Fidgets Kit includes an array of tools that provide a variety of sensory experiences: stretchy, chewy, spiky, twisty, bumpy, twisty, clicky, bouncy and smooshy!
Our Reinforcer Kit provides a selection of products that many children diagnosed with autism would not only want to play with but would be willing to “work for” during their one-on-one intervention. Although teachers can always use praise, food, candy and other toys, we think this bright and colorful kit of tools will help our families get a head-start on what to use for children wanting a favored object. The kit includes:
Spectra Spinner (battery operated)
Wooden Slide Whistle
Magic Mic (an Echo Microphone)
Squishy Flashing Ball
Bubbles and more!