“Fidget Spanners” are the tools or methods you use to maintain your children’s attention spans for slightly longer periods during portions of the day or subject matter in which you notice them getting rather... fidgety. You know the scenario: you have six pages of read-aloud material through which to get with all your students, but your youngest child is on the verge of a mini-meltdown because he needs to get up and release the “wiggles” in his extremities. What do you do? Well, you can plow through and keep reminding him, “Sit down, Ben. Benjamin, we’re almost done; you just need to sit still for a few more moments. Come on, Ben, have a seat. It’s just a little longer.” OR you can work with the wiggles….
Here are a few recommendations for dealing with fidgety kiddos:
- Have a timed period of pretty intense physical exercise before reading or attempting a certain subject (i.e., running up and down the stairs seven times, seeing how many jumping jacks he can do in two minutes, jogging around the house for five minutes, hopping up and down for 300 hops, etc.). You’re trying to wear the child down a little bit, basically.
- Give the child a quiet toy (usually a single toy or small set of items) with which to play quietly while listening to the reading (i.e., snap-together plastic building blocks, a fidget spinner, a small toy car, and so forth).
- Let the child color while listening to the reading—and if the coloring page is directly related to whatever your subject matter is in history or science, it’s even better.
- Allow craft-minded children to knit, crochet, needlepoint, macramé and whatever other quiet handcraft they do while listening.
- Assign a certain word or phrase as the key word of the reading, and the word for which the child is supposed to listen. Let him keep a tally card of how many times he heard that word said. Then you can give a half-penny a word, or if his number matches the actual number in the reading, you can reward him with extra screen time or a special snack.
What are some other methods that you have used as “Fidget Spanners”—keeping your children’s attention spans a little bit longer while trying to eliminate the fidgety distractions?