by Penny Cook
OK! I’m going to be blunt here….if you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbour of a young child…never let toy companies con you into thinking they have something you don’t have in your cupboard. If you have pots’n’pans, plastic containers, jars, interesting cooking utensils, then you have a toyshop!!!
Children love exploring and they love it even more when they’re not presented with glitzy, plastic, brightly coloured so called educational toys. And you know why??? Cos all of those mass produced plastic toys do not…and I say…DO NOT….engage children’s imaginations.
Open the cupboard, let them explore, explore with them. Play with them…pretend with them. Cook the soup, stir the pot and have yet another cup of tea!! Find your old lids and mismatched containers. Let the 2 year old have a go at organising your plastics and drum on your saucepans. If you do that, you will be doing more for their intellectual development than presenting them with coloured ‘bangs and whistle’ toys that only do one thing…bang and whistle.
Great Start Website: Fab resource for parents and grandparents of pre-schoolers
Let’s honour and respect children’s imaginations and open the cupboards and drawers. Watch what they do. You will see mathematical and scientific thinkers and you will hear their thinking as they explore, wonder, try out (that’s called hypothesising in the big world, but children do it all the time), and come up with some amazing thoughts, questions and ideas.
How come there is a whole multinational toy industry? Oh!! It’s because it’s a multinational toy industry. Take the pressure off yourselves and find what engages kids minds and souls, and I can tell you, it won’t be pink or purple plastic. Let’s give the kids a go.
Last word…no plastic toy or even pots and pans will replace playing with the kids but pots ‘n pans are fun!!!
Penny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren. She has always wanted to live in a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!
Photo source: Great Start website, Dept of Education and Child Development, SA