Mumbai Mom has always advocated a childhood free from too much structure and bemoaned the fact that kids have too little time for play and structure free exploration (boredom even!). These beliefs are after all not something that we dreamt of one fine day, but have been ratified by both parents and experts over the years of bringing up kids across the world.
More Than Just Fun and Games
Children begin to learn about the world around them from a very early age. Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well being of the children. Did you know that not just human babies but even animal babies play? Play is actually an evolutionary mechanism that helps in human and animal brain development.
The other benefit of Play is of course that it offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. If play is the work of the child, toys are the tools. Through toys, children learn a lot of things around them. Toys teach children to pick up new ideas, use their imagination, solve problems and of course they learn to share with others. And when we say toys, we do not mean the store bought toys only. We all have seen our kids pick up distinctly ‘non-toy’ implements and use them like toys (Yes, the rolling pin, toilet paper roll, show rack – all qualify!).
However this begets the question :
Do Toy Makers Know this?
While we cannot speak about all the toy manufacturers out there, Mumbai Mom did get the opportunity to meet the Mattel Toys team. At a recent visit to their office, we had an interactive session on child development through play. The event provided an insight on how they ensure that the toys manufactured by Mattel (especially the ones targeted towards pre-schoolers) aid in more learning opportunities for the children who play with them.
Indeed, we found it quite an eye opener to know that Fisher Price has something called a Play Lab where kids are invited to interact with new product designs to assess their playability, ease of use, and creative spark. This underlines the importance that the company places on real world play and interests of children – which is commendable.
Making Toys Matter
One of the main takeaways that Mumbai Mom got from visiting the Mattel office was that toy makers do put in a lot of effort in creating products that are not only age appropriate but also developmental stage appropriate. And this is clearly the result of a generation of parents who are more aware and educated and hence more demanding. It is hence very important for us as parents to give feedback to toy makers in order to ensure that the quality of the toys that we give to our children gets even better.
What are some of your observations about toys that are sold today? Do you feel that they really are age appropriate and well thought out – or is it just a eyewash? Do you have any suggestions for toy manufacturers as to how they can improve their offerings? Do share with us!