indoor play—choosing toys
Sunday, March 10, 2013
As we finish our Winter session of Parent-Child, we will also finish the chapter on “Indoor Environment” in Heaven on Earth. As I look through the end of the chapter, though, I feel like we could spend a lot more time talking about it. If you have additional questions or thoughts, please bring them to class. We will move on to Chapter 9 next week, which includes that wonderful topic of discipline. If you get a chance, take a look at the family star, one of my favorite parts of this chapter.
In the last part of the indoor play chapter, Sharifa discusses where we might want to put our child’s play space, how to organize it, what to put in it, how to clean up, how to maintain it, making our own toys, indoor sand and water play, plus even more! She talks about the importance of having the young child be able to play nearby where we are working. When they are very young, they generally want to be right where we are. This can be challenging, but also wonderful. Soon enough, they will be off playing in another part of the house alone or with their friends. One thing she talks about is making changes in the play space—especially replacing toys we don’t want (plastic, electronic, etc.) with more natural open ended toys. She says that we know our child. Some children will love the surprise of having new things and won’t be upset that other toys are gone. Other children do not like surprises or change much at all. We know our own child best, and they are perfect just as they are. I know some parents who were able to go through the child’s toys with them to choose out ones they no longer used to give to charity—other children who don’t have toys to play with. This is a wonderful thing if the child can do it. My own children would not have been able to do that when they were young. I was able to pack things away when they were not there, and if I got them out of the house before they noticed, it was fine. If I left the box somewhere and they discovered it, out came those old toys again—at least for a while!
Kim Payne talks about categories of toys we might want to get rid of and also categories of toys we will want to keep or even bring in if we don’t have them, although Sharifa goes into more detail on this aspect. (Simplicity Parenting, Chapter 3, “Environment”) He points out that “You are the judge of what delights and engages your child. You know which toys fit them developmentally, which ones they cherish. [He thinks] you’ll be amazed by how many toys really will be forgotten—not missed—if they disappear.” I certainly was surprised with my own children, but again, this depends on the child.
Here is his list of ten categories of toys “without staying power”
1. Broken toys
2. Developmentally inappropriate toys—outgrown or waiting to be grown into
3. Conceptually fixed toys—e.g. detailed, molded plastic
4. Toys that do too much and break too easily
5. Very high stimulation toys
6. Annoying or offensive toys—to child or parent
7. Toys that claim to give your child a developmental edge—play is not a race
8. Toys you are pressured to buy
9. Toys that inspire corrosive play
10. Toy multiples—if one is wonderful, 3 isn’t necessarily three times as great
Not included in this list are special toys that your child loves—those are sacred and should be kept even if they fit into one of the above categories.
When gathering materials for imaginative play, simple is still the key. Lots of beautiful Waldorf toys can still be too much stuff.
Ifound a blog post on geek dad, which reviews all sorts of electronic stuff, entitled “The Five Best Toys of all Time”, and these are what he lists :
3. String (which we already noticed!)
4. Cardboard tube
Sounds like fun!
Thanks for joining us for the Winter term. I hope to see you next week when the Spring term begins.