**Before I start my rant, know that you can be my philosophical opposite and we can still be friends. Know that I make my choices based on what I feel is best for my family, and has God’s stamp of approval. If my choice is different than your choice, that doesn’t mean I think you’re wrong, or I’m judging you somehow. The beauty of God is He made us all different and unique.**
Know what I hate?
I hate plastic toys.
I hate toys with batteries.
I hate so called “educational toys”.
I hate licensed characters, like Dora or Disney on toys and clothing.
We feel that activities we do with our children for the most part should have some educational value. We believe that children want to be able to ‘do it myself’. We want to allow our children to fully participate in the daily life of the family. We want to provide open ended experiences; unstructured activities that allow their creativity to blossom and their problem solving skills to develop.
Studies are proving what I’ve felt in my gut all along. One study in 2007 looked at 12,500 children at ages six months, 18, 30, and 42 months. They determined that one-to-one interaction and outings to the store or to parks have a greater and long-term impact on development of a child than did educational toys such as pre-school computers and electronic activity boards.
This from Time magazine in 1964: “Many so-called educational toys are mediocre gadgets whose makers hope to cash in on the wave of interest in early childhood education.”
NO real surprise to me. But let’s spend more money on plastic, just in case they are wrong.
A few well thought-out purchases of open-ended toys and of course books are really all a baby or child needs. Oh, and time with you. Lots and lots of time with you.
Now this is not to say I have a plastic free home. We have been given several toys that blink and plink and light up when their buttons are pushed. I bought a LeapPad when Aviana was a baby, because, all the cool babies had them; I didn’t want her to be outdone by her peers. Silly me. I’m smarter now.
But you know what toys my kids like best? Toys that allow them to use their imagination. Toys that can be used for many different purposes. Toys that grow with my child to a certain extent. Toys that challenge them to think. Toys that encourage discovery.
Aviana carries her Magna-doodle around with her every where and Brielle follows suit. Aviana likes building with her daddy’s old Tinkertoys, and Brielle likes the Mega-blocks. They love their puzzles. They love Wedgits. They love to cut and paste and create “prodjets”. Aviana is starting to be able to sew, using a plastic grid, or bits of felt. They love to be read to. We read a lot. A loh-ot. They love their dress up clothes. Of course they also love to be naked, but that doesn’t really fit with this post.
One of the biggest things I hate is that you can’t really find a lot of good quality, open ended toys at Wal-mart, Target, Toys-r-us… you have to shop online. I recommend For Small Hands and Mindware. Do you have a go-to store for your favorite toys?
But you know what my kids like even better than all the high quality, open-ended, imagination boosting toys in the world? My stuff.