Going Back To School

2016 Aug 11th

Ah yes, it is mid August (almost) and it is time to start getting our children, our lives, our homes, and our classrooms prepared for going back to school come September!  While we find new clothes and uniforms, you can also get your child emotionally and physically prepared for school with our awesome "Manipulatives" at BC Playthings!

There are many learning and emotional styles and many situations that require our children to think differently and with confidence throughout their school years: using a pencil properly and developing good fine motor development, sitting at their desks, moving from classroom to classroom, giving presentations, playground anxieties, meeting new friends and teachers, and special needs children (I prefer the term: Cool Kids).  All of these and more can often be helped with the use of what is called a "fidget" and BC Playthings has worked hard to find you and your family some lovely options! 

Early printers need help with the "pincher" grasp and we suggest games with tongs like the Learning Resources "Super Sorting Pie," our assorted pencil grips, and our thick, triangular pencils.

The “pincer grip” is a common term among elementary school educators, therapists, and doctors. Simply put, the pincer grip is the grasp used by the index finger and thumb to pinch a shoe lace, a cereal puff, or a pencil.

There are typically three different grip styles children use as they develop fine motor skills:

  • Fist grip. Children younger than one year old typically reach for and hold items with their entire fist. When using a pencil or crayon, a young child will hold the item in their closed fist with their pinky closest to the paper and thumb on top.
  • Four-finger grip. As children gain fine motor control, they typically progress from using a fist grip to a four-fingered grip. With a four-fingered grip, a child uses all four fingers together to hold an object against his thumb. This grip gives a child greater control when holding small items (or self-feeding), but it is still clumsy and inefficient.
  • Pincer grip. Once children develop strong fine motor skills, a true pincer grip emerges. With this grip, a child uses only his thumb and index finger to hold and manipulate small objects. With a pincer grip, a child can easily twist dials, turn the pages of a book, open and close a zipper, and use crayons or pencils with precision.

Another important "School Tool" from BC Playthings selection are our fidgets!  We have special balls for squishing, toys for pulling, pencil tops for chewing and sniffing, seating cushions for wiggling on, and many more items.  All of these "School Tools" allow a wiggly child to move quietly while lessons are being taught and yet still be allowed to move.  More and more parents and teachers are finding that children need to move to learn.  However, movement can cause disruption in classrooms and thus require a reasonable framework for the teacher, the "wigglers" and the other children who are able to self-regulate.  With a simple, small and quiet toy in their hands, all of a sudden you have a student who moves but also learns!

Anxious children have always been in the world and we have now become a society that believes that the inner turmoil of anxiety, depression, over stimulation and or anger does not ever mean a "bad" student.  Rather, there are teachers and specialists who offer tools for learning in their classrooms and oftentimes it is in the shape of a "fidget."  The "fidget" is something these children can hold, rub, or squeeze as they breathe in and out in a relaxing fashion.  Many therapists suggest learning a word like "calm" or "breathe" or "peace" to be quietly said by the child as they learn how to calm themselves.  As the child learns that they have the tools to remain calm and confident within them, they use the same "fidget" in the classroom and repeat their chosen word in their heads to reduce stress. M Wenig suggests that “(w)hen children learn techniques for self-health, relaxation, and inner fulfillment, they can navigate life’s challenges with a little more ease.”  Allowing a child to learn how to self-regulate gives them a lifetime of tools!  

“ “Okay, let’s take it one step at a time. First things first: How do we identify strengths?” Temple Grandin, The Autistic Brain

I have a special interest here as we have a family member who has a "special need" and who is not your "typical" student.  It takes years to figure out these "Cool Kids" and their different needs; however, it makes such a difference in their educational lives if we can make their experience more enriched, fun, and easy!  BC Playthings stocks very specific tools such as the chew tools "Chew Stixx,"  "Senso Bands" and so much more!  Like Temple suggests, we need to "take it one step at a time" for our Cool Kids and if you come into BC Playthings, we are more than willing to help!