As parents and child-enthusiasts, do you ever get this feeling like there's this battle between discovering good educational toys against the manufactures that produce pointless items just to make a profit?
Then there's the bigger battle where your child pleads his or her case -- explaining how vital it is he'd get a certain 7-second play-thing. I'm not going to try and pretend I'm a hero -- my six-year-old can tell you that I've caved in. But I'm not naïve either; people will do whatever they have to do to create the life they want, the life that profits, sometimes without moral. However, I think as parents, we need to recognize the lasting affects of certain merchandise.
I have distinct memories of my brother and I playing 'kitchen' or 'Top Chef,' if you will, during our younger years. My mother has mentioned that it was a great time for her to get dinner ready without many interruptions. She'd let us use every available pot or pan and all her Tupperware and wooden spoons. She's called it our 'cooking-cooking' time. I watched my brother make a lot of noise, but I realize now, his imagination was free. Today, he's a great cook.
As I watch my 19-month old daughter reenact similar play gestures, it's quite apparent that games, toys and even the word play has really evolved since my days of pretend salt and pepper.
We've arrived at this place where apps, face-time and email replace many conversation. Yes, many of them are fun and helpful, but what is it actually doing to our younger generation?
I was recently in this boutique and I heard this young lady disclose that she's almost forgotten how to write. Ummmm... WHAT - that the last time she probably wrote was when it was mandatory to have an authorized signature when using a credit card. Though the shock of that notion baffled me at that moment, we cannot be naïve and say we all can't relate. It is fact that we write less. But is it fact that we think less?
And again, my thoughts immediately direct itself towards my kids.
Maybe at these tender ages it shouldn't be about finding the five closest Starbucks locations, or enhancing photos during the drive to Grandma's house. And maybe it isn't even always having an electronic device available.
Don't get me wrong, we've come a long way and have achieved great benefits from our refrigerator-sized-computer-days and all the many current educational resources out there.
However, the importance of increasing motor and social skills is crucial in my world. Experiences create learning opportunities. And these opportunities open the door for growth and confidence. My core screams for my kids to have their imagination soar and not allow technology to dictate how.
"As parents, we are wired to try to save our children from harm and hurt, but ultimately we can't. They'll fall down, they'll get their feelings hurt, and they'll get scared and sad and angry. Actually, it's often these difficult experiences that allow them to grow and learn about the world. Rather than trying to shelter our children from life's inevitable difficulties, we can help them integrate those experiences into their understanding of the world and learn from them" is such a telling piece that Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson write in their book, The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind.
For all the parents and kid-lovers out there, what were your favorite toy/activity growing up? Think about it. There is a great chance that many of those are the most effective ones and the ones that may assist in creating a stronger mind for your little one.
Here are the top ten toys and activities that are worth keeping available for your growing tots. They have been proven to create lasting play, but most importantly to increase your child's problem-solving skills, strengthen motor skills and also allow them to depend on their own mind.
2. Wooden Building Blocks
4. Play Dough
9. Bug Sets