Fidget Toys: Classroom tool, or distraction?

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SEATTLE -- Some teachers have banned fidget toys from their classrooms, viewing them as a distraction, but all that could be changing.

Jennifer Zadow, a special education teacher at Syre Elementary in Shoreline, says they help her students concentrate in the classroom, and reduces their anxiety.

“It’s just another tool for them to be successful,” said Zadow.

One student uses a pouch with a marble in it. Another uses a bouncy band attached to the bottom of his seat to bounce his feet on while he focuses on his math.

Alex Herrick likes the fidget cube. It’s a small box with buttons, dials, and gears.

“It just helps me focus,” said Herrick. “And it makes it easier to do my work.”

For years, teachers frowned on fidgeting in class, but Zadow says the fidget tools allow kids to disperse that energy in a productive way.

“They were fidgeting to meet a need and when you try to stop meeting a need at any point everything else is going to break down,” said Zadow.

As they become more popular, the fidget tools are making their way into all kinds of classrooms, although a lot of teachers are starting to ban them, calling them a distraction to other students.

Some teachers are implementing rules, telling kids to keep the toys low near their lap so others don’t see them, and making sure they put them away if they’re not in use.

But the idea of fidget tools is not going away. There is even new classroom furniture coming out with fidgeting devices built in.

“Teachers and parents are seeing kids using it more effectively and not as a toy,” said Zadow. “If they see it more as a tool, then I think you`re going to see them more and more.”

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