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Playing with Putty or Balls during Instruction

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    Playing with Putty or Balls during Instruction

    Cheryl and all,

    What do you think of letting a child who has trouble focusing play with therapy putty or squishy balls during homeschool instruction? I like that it will help her focus, but will it interfere with her learning and retaining the information being taught?

    Thank you!

    #2
    Re: Playing with Putty or Balls during Instruction

    I have found some fidgets very helpful. But balls and putty are a no go around here. Just constant dropping, etc. I've found elastic bracelets with attached fidgets like beads are better because they can't be dropped.

    You could also try sitting on a balance ball during lessons.

    I let my kids color during read alouds. Legos became too loud and distracting.
    Married to DH for 13 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

    DS10- Simply Classical 4 / Grade 3 Classic Core,
    DD8- Grade 2 Classic Core,
    DD 6- Classic Core Kindergarten

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      #3
      Re: Playing with Putty or Balls during Instruction

      If you have a desk or table, I stick the pointy side of a Velcro tab underneath. Then explain how they feel that when We are talking or discussing. That way they can still give some eye contact.

      Michelle T

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        #4
        Re: Playing with Putty or Balls during Instruction

        Originally posted by Michelle T View Post
        If you have a desk or table, I stick the pointy side of a Velcro tab underneath. Then explain how they feel that when We are talking or discussing. That way they can still give some eye contact.

        Michelle T
        Love! (Michelle, you are a gold mine.)

        ColoMama: YEP.

        My fidgiter loves long skinny fidgets like pencils. We have twistable crayons for school that I have to police regularly.

        We *started* our school journey with fidgets, simply because I was not going to get any joint attention without them. But I gradually weaned them away. They became too much of a distraction (and an excuse not to focus for my fidgiter). It took about two or three months to finally bid them adieu. In between lessons, I allow fidgets (aka stimming) for a period of minutes. Then it's done. My fidgeter would do nothing else for hours when he was younger and we had to work very hard to pull him out of that cycle by replacing and redirecting preferences and pleasures. He found he enjoyed learning how to use a pencil correctly for writing as much as he liked fidgeting with it. So that helped immensely.
        Boy Wonder: 10, MP2/SC4 (Special Needs)
        Joy Bubble: 8, MP2 (Special Needs)
        Snuggly Cowboy: 6, MPK
        Sweet Lightness: 2, Reverse-Engineering Specialist

        “Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.”
        ~Pope St John Paul II

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          #5
          Re: Playing with Putty or Balls during Instruction

          Originally posted by thenightbeforechristmas View Post
          Cheryl and all,

          What do you think of letting a child who has trouble focusing play with therapy putty or squishy balls during homeschool instruction? I like that it will help her focus, but will it interfere with her learning and retaining the information being taught?

          Thank you!
          TNBC,

          This is for your 3rd-grade daughter, correct? I think it depends mostly on the child's particular sensory needs. An OTR can help identify the best sensory diet to improve your child's concentration. For some children, a hand-held fidget might be less effective than something oral (a hard bagel, or licorice) before or during a lesson. For others, vestibular or large-motor "fidgeting" can be helpful (balancing on a stability ball, bouncing on a mini-tramp). As you are hinting in your question, not all children will benefit from playing with something in their hands. The very visual child might focus only on the putty in his hands and "tune out" any aural instruction, as a result.

          Your daughter might have the self-awareness to help identify whether something would be helpful or distracting, before you even begin experimenting. Or she might not. If not, you might need to observe her during times in which she wants to concentrate. What does she do? (Fiddle with something, chew on something, seek/avoid stimulation.)

          When mine were school-aged, we did not usually use hand-held items, unless the items were related to the lesson. For example, they might illustrate a story with playdough figures, spell words with letter beads, or illustrate arithmetic problems with base-ten blocks. One exception, just to make sure we did the hand-strengthening homework: the small OT strength ball squeezed to the rhythm of oral recitations.

          But again, each child is different.


          Another thought:
          My own rule of thumb for my children kept a view to being "socially acceptable" in the years to come. For example, when the OT suggested a plastic chew toy for my daughter, we opted for a piece of chewing gum. (Once swallowed, not replaced! Over time, she explained to me a fascinating insight that some flavors create less of a compulsion to swallow, so we find this helpful even today.)


          Other tips:
          Explain ahead of time these things ...

          1. This is not a toy to turn lessons into silliness or playtime. This is a tool, so that her lessons will help her learn.
          2. You will keep using something if this helps her concentrate.
          3. You plan to evaluate this together.

          Discuss beforehand how you will both know whether concentration is being improved.
          Q: How will we know if you are concentrating better with xyz?
          A: I do not need to ask you to repeat so much. I'm getting more answers correct.

          Q: How will we know if it is a distraction for you?
          A: I'm looking at the object and forgetting what you're saying. You have to explain things even more times than before.


          All of this helps the child learn more about herself.

          Interesting topic!

          Thanks for asking the question --
          Cheryl

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            #6
            Re: Playing with Putty or Balls during Instruction

            Cheryl I have a folder with all your great advice

            Another thing we have been trying this year with great success for my adhd/spd fidget-er is a standing desk...the extra proprioceptive input of standing reduced her need to fidget greatly though we still use gum too on tough days. She is staying focused on a task longer too. The OT we had said they recommend it mainly to home schooled students because most public schools are resistant but they see huge improvements with standing desks. The one we have has a built in fidget foot rest but any standing work area is good, she stood at the table for a while until we got the desk as a gift.

            Standupkids has a video on how to choose the right height for a standing work surface...

            as far as putty ack after picking it out of ds' long hair hahaha never again.
            We do use bees wax sometimes esp for our child who picks at their cuticles...mostly during read aloud times it smells nice and since it gets cold and hard when not being held is easier to clean up
            Winter 2019 :
            DD - Graduated!
            DS - core 9 with remediation/support
            DD - core 6 with remediation/support
            DS - moving from SC to grade 4

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