Using Fidgets Appropriately to Promote Inclusion

What's in Your Fidget Box; Removing the Stumbling Block

A fidget is a small object that can be squeezed, pulled, or moved around as a form of self-regulation to help students with focus, attention, calming, and active listening. Fidgets come in all different shapes, sizes, and textures and can all be used to promote movement and tactile input that is critical for student learning.

Research shows that engaging in an activity that uses a sense other than what's required for your primary task can enhance focus and improve performance in children with Attention Deficit Disorder. There is also science around why many people fidget (not just those with attention issues): The Science of Why We Fidget While We Work.

A good fidget is one that is both effective at helping a learner concentrate and can easily fit into a classroom environment. The key to successfully using fidgets in the classroom includes clear rules that are consistently and kindly enforced.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Fidgets are tools, not toys. A tool is meant to help while a toy is meant for play. A toy can easily become a distraction. The right language is as important as getting the right fidgets.
  • Present fidgets to ALL students. Model their appropriate use. Allow students to sample the different fidgets and experience the movement and tactile input a fidget provides.
  • Explain why some students need fidgets to be successful and some do not. Refer back to the concept that fair isn't equal and a lesson on teaching the difference between fairness and equality.
  • Consistency is VERY important. An example, "I can see your fidget. It is supposed to be out of sight. Please return the fidget for today and you can try again tomorrow." Find the language that is most comfortable for you. 
  • Review and post rules for using fidgets. 

Some of my favorite fidgets:







I'd love to hear how you are using fidgets effectively. Share your best strategies in the comments!

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