Fewer toys definitely beneficial for children

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

fewer-toysThe other day I observed a small boy – about five to six years old – in the Park, while I was cutting the grass on the estate, playing for hours happily on his own with a toy truck while his adults were sitting on a bench.

With one single toy he was occupied, and seriously engrossed in play, on his own, without getting distracted or fidgety. I assume that, had his adults not wanted to leave, he would have happily been there for another few hours still playing with the self-same toy.

While parents seem to believe, all too often, that the more toys the child has the happier he – or she – will be and the more play and better play, and play experience, they will have. The opposite, however, seems to be the case rather, as also some research appears to strongly suggest as well.

The more toys a child has the less he (and the he stands for both genders here in the continuation of this piece) will be using his imagination during play but using imagination in play is what makes play the work of the child, as Maria Montessori said about play, especially unstructured play.

When we were children we, more often than not, made our own toys, often from scrap, wood or other, some of it waste materials, and from natural wood. We made slingshots – yes, working ones with rubber bands and leather pouch – stick guns, you name it. Sticks and stones often also were the materials for play constructions and we had fun for hours on end making our own entertainment.

On the other hand, even then, children that had (too) many toys – even though we did envy them at times – got bored with one thing very quickly and moved on to the next, never being able to link their play in the way that we did, looking back at it now, with hindsight. What we lacked in store-bought manufactured toys we made up for in imagination in play and in creating our own toys and stuff.

Too many toys in a child's toy box seem to distract play and learning and actually seems to lead to boredom rather than the opposite. In other words, masses of toys are not boredom killers but rather boredom creators because the child gets soon disinterested in the toys. There are just too many which is overwhelming. Fewer toys also make for less clutter in the playroom, bedroom, or any other room where the kids may play.

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