When I look back on my elementary school days, a lot of rules can come to mind. Raise your hand before speaking. Ask permission before going to the restroom. Don’t run in the hallways. But what sticks out to me the most was one simple, yet hard to follow rule–Don’t chew gum in class! Okay, so maybe I can understand why teachers wouldn’t want children chewing gum–it can make a mess, get all over the desk and furniture, not to mention that whole myth about what actually happens if you swallow gum. (I’m still unclear about it to tell you the truth). But while catching up on my blogs I discovered a recent post, (found here http://www.rehabalternatives.com/blogspot/chewing-gum-can-aid-concentration/) that shares chewing gum can actually aid concentration!
Chewing gum it turns out can serve as a sensory aid for children. Think back to how often you see a child, or perhaps you as a child would bite your nails, or chew on the top of your shirts or a pencil. This isn’t just to be destructive, but it serves as a calming and relaxing habit for children. As adults, we are able to resist these habits and outbursts, but for children it’s not as easy.
Thus, chewing gum is used by some teachers and even Occupational Therapists as a means of sensory integration therapy. It helps children to be less distracted or anxious, thus helping their ability to concentrate. It has also been hypothesized that gum chewing increases oxygen’s reach to areas of the brain responsible for focus and concentration, as shared on a Scientific American article.
Regardless, it is definitely worth a shot! If you’re not ready to let your students or child try chewing gum (I know, gum on the rug is not a pretty sight) then perhaps try it for yourself! Next time you find yourself dozing off at work you now have a new trick up your sleeve.