By Heather Collins
At Clay Middle School, students are encouraged to ask teachers for fidget tools to assist with concentration in the classroom. Fidget tools are quiet, hand-held self-regulation tools that allow students to fidget without disrupting the classroom. They are available at all Carmel Clay schools.
Dan Pantane, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at CMS, said fidget boxes were given to staff members three years ago. Pantane helped implement fidget tools at Creekside nine years ago through a grant. This year, he said CMS has seen a huge increase in the use of fidget tools by students.
Fidget boxes include items like feathers, stress balls, pipe cleaners and theraputty.
“When used appropriately, fidgets are an easy way for students to stay focused without distracting other,” Pantane said. “Students that don’t have fidgets might start bothering students next to them by tapping pencils, taking things or even getting out of their seats and wandering around the room.”
Teachers received the fidget boxes at the beginning of the school year. Administrators and special education teams helped teachers understand how the fidgets could be appropriately and effectively used by students.
Pantane said items in the fidget boxes are available for all students and that some have begun purchasing their own fidget items, including the popular spinners and cubes.
Pantane said the fidget items are a positive tool in the classroom for students who genuinely need something to help relieve anxiety or need help staying focused in class.
“The positive for teachers is that, if used appropriately, those fidgets can help students with focus and attention in a way that is not a distraction to themselves, the students around them, or the class in general,” Pantane said.
Pantane stressed that fidget tools are only successful when used appropriately. He said when the fidgets cross the line from a fidget to a toy, it is no longer useful.
- Rule 1: Fidgets can only be used to help with focus and attention or to calm down.
- Rule 2: A fidget is meant to be used while the student is listening, not while they are meant to be doing something else with their hands.
- Rule 3: Fidgets must remain out of sight.
- Rule 4: Fidgets can’t be used to get other people’s attention. If it becomes a distraction, it is taken away.
*Source: Teacher Dan Patane at Clay Middle School