How many times has your child opened a bunch of new toys at Christmas or his/her birthday, only to be more interested in playing with the box they came in?
Sometimes the most exciting – and even most educational – toys are the old fashioned ones. Crayons, building blocks and cardboard boxes do as much for your child as the brain food toys of today – often more.
A Child Needs to Create His/Her Own Environment
Simple, unstructured toys allow your child to take control of his/her environment, allowing him to explore, create and learn without any prompting from a voice inside a battery operated chunk of plastic. Media tells parents that in order to have the best head start in life, a child must have all the latest electronic toys that teach spelling, math and languages. The drawback is that the child does not create his own environment, losing out on valuable learning opportunities.
Self Directed Play Equals Valuable Life Skills
A child who is encouraged to create his own world of play is better equipped to problem solve in the world beyond his/her own backyard. Self directed play inspires risk taking and ingenuity, curiosity and problem solving. Costumes and a cardboard box encourage social interaction and co operation among peers. Crayons and paper, Lego and blocks – these toys help to develop creativity, spontaneity and imagination.
Children are Natural Born Explorers
Children, by nature, are explorers – eager to learn and find out what does what and why – a primitive species if you will. This is the reason your child will want to find out for himself/herself what rocks taste like or what happens if you fill the toilet with sand, no matter how many times you say “Don’t!” Toys that merely ask a child to push a button are actually robbing the child of what he naturally does best – learn things for himself/herself.
So Many Toys, and Yet So Bored
Today, children have more toys than they know what to do with, yet children often claim they are bored and have nothing to do. They lose interest with the latest commercially endorsed gadget, quickly tossing it aside. But give a child a simple cardboard box, some paint and glue and he/she will be engrossed for hours as he experiments and constructs and creates his/her own clubhouse, spaceship or good guy headquarters.
Simple Living Begins With Your Child
The “green” movement of simple living is swiftly becoming a way of life across our planet. What better place to start than with your children? Resist the urge to buy every latest toy seen on television and instead encourage your child to create his/her own world with the help of an empty box, a hat and an old pair of boots.
Toy Hall of Fame
The card board box was indicted into the toy hall of fame in 2005, right beside the likes of Raggedy Ann, Tinker Toys and the little red Radio Flyer wagon, proof that simple, unstructured activities really are the best form of child’s play.
Joining the NOC team in 2011, Siobhan Keely is a yoga teacher and child care giver living in Vancouver. Having worked with children for more than 25 years in day care centres and as a nanny in Winnipeg and Vancouver, she is happy to share her experience and insights in raising a happy healthy child.