Friday, December 5, 2014

On Toys



Toys are old as human civilization. Being small and thus initially unable to contribute to the society, children were generally left to their own devices, and having too much time on their hands, they’ve found different ways to relieve themselves of boredom. From this basic sentiment toys were born. Children will generally use whatever they can find to play – whether it’s rocks, sticks, flowers or animals, but the adults have made more refined items to help their progeny have fun.

Toys have been known to be one of the oldest man-made objects to be found in archeological digs, and indeed, even the oldest literature references them, as the sentiment for using them is completely universal. As time progressed, so did toys – and in recent times, by and with technology, they have reached heights a child from two centuries ago could only see in its wildest imagination.

Certain toys today are marketed as being educational, serving to convey information about the world to the child. Most, if not all, of these toys are matching games – a child is supposed to match two categories and learn during that process. Reading, spelling, basic mathematics and common knowledge serves as basis of all educational toys. Alphabet blocks are a typical example of this kind, and have been used in popular culture to indicate young age and intelligence of a child. Electronic toys always use sounds and perhaps some sort of animation (child is told to match animal sounds to a respective animal; to spell a certain object or similar).

However, saying that educational toys are the only toy that aid child’s development would be a gross understatement. In fact, it could be claimed that all toys, without exception, serve to help child get more in touch with the world around it and hone its skills and abilities. For instance, ordinary jigsaw puzzles help problem solving abilities and spatial intelligence, and hula hoops help body control and overall fitness.

One of the greatest abilities toys help out with are social skills. Practically every toy can be used in a social setting, and if it’s not intended for that purpose, a child will find one. A great many deal of toys can only be used in a social setting, and truly, these form a majority of fondest memories of childhood. Whether it’s Clue, Monopoly, Risk, or plain old chess (a passion that may linger for a much while longer), these group activities help children socialize, and one can only hope they learn how not to be sore losers in the process.

There is one type of toys that has fallen out of style with advent of plastic but which is thankfully getting back into fashion. Wooden toys have inherent beauty about them that outmatches by far their more easily produced plastic counterparts. Rocking horses, wooden trains and much more complex playthings have a sort of quaint aura about them, and they sort of serve to remind both young and old that people did have fun before electricity and internet. But there are also some more practical concerns – wooden toys contain no toxins or small parts.

Toys will remain eternal fascination for humanity, because they both thrive on and improve the imagination of a child. Be careful not to outdo them – have faith in your child’s ability to find new uses for old things.


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