Exploring through Play
Toy aisles are full of the latest colorful gadgets that say that this toy inside will do it all, for your sweet little angel. This toy will sing to your child, recite colors, count in both English and Spanish, and say the alphabet with a push of a button. The colorful package says it is made for the child on the go to be entertained, simply add batteries...
But before you steer your shopping cart down that battery aisle, think for just a moment; do you really want a toy to do all the thinking for our children? Or do you want our children to learn to think for themselves?
Letting a baby interact with two cups and two balls can offer an endless amount of learning opportunities, as he learns cause and effect for himself, hides and reveals, fills and dumps. Offering several steel reflective kitchen bowls might allow a tiny infant to find his own voice, as he sees his reflection, not a button on a machine. Hanging a crystal in the window and letting the sun catch it creating a surprise interaction with the outdoors adds a bit of wonder to the baby's day. You do not need to purchase a plastic replica of an item, but rather give the child the authentic material to manipulate. The old adage "they would rather play with the box" is so true,
THEY. WOULD. RATHER. PLAY. WITH. THE. BOX.
Before you rush out to purchase the latest toy on the market, look around and see what you have that is real, something not created to do all the child's thinking, give the child something authentic and real that will allow him to think for himself and explore through simple play.
"Each time we prematurely teach a child something he could have discovered himself, that child is kept from inventing it and consequently from understanding it completely.”
- Jean Piaget
Written by Christine Burkholder