Toys are awesome. Every kid has to have toys. (Even adults love to have toys!) But in today’s fast paced society – are we going a bit over the top trying to educate our kids too much even when they are supposed to be ‘playing’?
If too much emphasis is placed on the educational side of play we could be taking the fun out of playtime and place unnecessary pressure on their little lives.
From my experience, it is very obvious that kids are learning ALL the time. They learn from our behaviour, they learn when they are eating, they learn when they are having a bath, they learn when we are shopping. Their brains are in gear all the time and every experience presents opportunity for growth and development. So the toy market is coming out with more and more educational based modern technology toys to focus on specific areas of development for our kids. That raises the questions: are we placing pressure on our little ones to advance beyond their years in preparation to excel at school? . . .Are we placing pressure on ourselves to afford the latest inventions? . . .Is the extra-educational concept worthwhile our effort? . . . Is it at all helpful to the child?
Kids that are going to school already knowing everything they need for the first year or so are no better off academically than those who have spent the first years of their life simply playing. Kids are kids right? Learning everything earlier will not necessarily give them advantage over their peers. You may still incorporate learning into their play, but to go overboard with all the latest fancy educational toys will not benefit them more than if you were to keep it simple (or “old school”).
The technology is changing at a very rapid pace. Human genetics is not. Think back to the day of the 40’s. What did they use for educational toys back then? Is what our toddlers are learning today a great deal different to what our ancestors needed to know back then?
I love the idea of “Play-School” style play. Using Egg cartons, cardboard rolls, paper plates. Waterplay with empty bottles, containers and washing up utensils. Making playdoh shapes with your hands and cookie cutters – not some automatic machine that cuts, shapes and finishes your creation. It’s the “inner grandma” coming out in me – but I can’t help but emphasise the enjoyment that kids get out of doing these extremely simple things on a daily basis. Give a child a cardboard box and see what I mean.
Try it yourself. Next time you think your kids are missing out because you can’t afford to buy them the latest invention that will supercharge their educational life. Use your own imagination. Whatever the toy is, ask yourself – what does it teach them? What skills are they gaining? How can you imitate that using everyday essentials around the house? You might just surprise yourself. And the kids – they will be blown away with surprise that their mum (or dad) is just as smart as the toy companies. Seriously – they will not know what they’re missing and the truth is – they are not missing out if you don’t buy every single educational toy in the shop. They will appreciate the basic stuff and express their gratitude in surprising you with their intelligence. After all, I don’t know if you’ve noticed – but a childs developmental progress is moving faster than the toy companies and while they might be fascinated with the “current” toy, it will be at the back of the toy pile before you know it and you’ll be up for another payrise to afford the next gadget. . .
Remember to always have fun! They are not kids for long. Let them be kids ‘old school’ style. You might just learn something.