I’m not a great believer in toys. There I said it! Whilst a few toys along the way are beneficial I cringe when I see kids with rooms stuffed with toys, stacked up, piled up and often with half the pieces scattered far and wide 😖
Years of training in child development and mental health have shaped my view of the value of play but not in the enormous expenditure of toys that the big kid companies tell us we simply must have … Urgh.
Worst still from a well-being side I’ve worked with the parents that feel guilty and sub par because of the lack of money they have to spoil their babies with this toy and that. Often coining the phrase ‘I just want to give them everything I didn’t have’ or ‘so&so’s child has everything’. They look at me gone out when I exclaim that their child will gain no value from a room full of plastic, they’ll develop no more skills or become any better children for hoarding bright coloured gizmos or light up wotsits.
My philosophy? Simply this: A child needs to be excited by play, given opportunities to use their own imagination to dream up new ideas, find out new things and consolidate this learning. Sure they (toy companies) may claim their toy helps kids learn their colours or match their shapes but by this logic for every new thing they learn a new toy is needed .. Catchy marketing that! (£££)
And as soon as the excitement of gaining a new toy has wavered, it quickly falls out of favour and into a dust collecting object doomed to either storage, donation or worse .. Landfill (side note: I’m pretty sure we are creating clever shape sorting, colour matching landfill bugs underground 😅).
Let’s come at this from a different angle.. What do we want our Children to be? For me, I want to raise an inquisitive soul, a boy that questions all that he sees and recognises failures as a sign he’s improving. I want him to be curious about the whys and how’s of things that work, things that don’t. I want him to have confidence.
What toy do I buy for this? … None.
Okay, very little (I’m not all out boycotting toys just 99% of them!).
Give a child a prescriptive toy and he will learn to play with it as the manufacture intended, and once mastered, it will lose its persazz.
Give a child an object, a cup and spoon, ball and bowl, blanket and pegs, boxes and spoons (you get the idea) they will take their hoard and find 50 things to make it into. Bowls become drums, hats or cooking pots. Shoeboxes, treasure chests, ovens, a bed or even a cave! They learn to see through functional use and learn to test an objects structure. They submerse themselves into play and when bored of one idea they’ll dive into another .. A shoebox will always kick a toys butt for play, we all know kids on Christmas Day that unwrap toys only to play with the box .. They’re telling you something right there!
I did mention that not all toys are on my naughty list. There are indeed some that I love, the plain un descriptive ones. Plain wooden blocks (we have Jenga), play dough, bean bags, foam cubes, Lego, bats and balls, hula hoops and bears (they make the best customers for selling play dough cookies too!).
But in our toy chest we also have: wooden spoons, mixing bowls, whisks, spatulas. Cushions from the sofa, placemats from the table, empty toilet tubes in empty cardboard boxes and paper bags too!
And maybe I’ll write a blog post listing all the crazy imaginitive things over the years we have turned everyday objects into .. A bullet list of activities/ideas maybe?
Spend less and play more. Everything at home/outside can be a toy if we truly believe in what it could become! 😊
Happy Monday folks x