Evolving toys

By | November 27, 2009
Toys that encourage children to understand their workings are becoming rarer

Toys that encourage children to understand their workings are becoming rarer

I have joined a toy library for Nisarga. They have toys and books and stuff. Its started by a friend and I can get flashcards, and books, all kinds of toys and stuff for him, without investing in space in my home. Its quite great actually, and surprisingly affordable. She operates it only two days a week, but its enough. No point changing toys everyday.

Oh, if you live near Borivali West, you may want to check it out. I hesitate to give out her contact information without permission, but if you comment here, I can email you her information.

Anyway, coming to the original reason for the post. Every time I go to the toy library, I’m fascinated with the kinds of toys on offer. Big, child friendly books, colourful toys of incredible variety, developmental toys suitable to encourage children to explore emerging abilities….. I felt like a kid in a chocolate shop. All this stuff was unheard of when I grew up.

Perhaps I’m a little intimidated by the variety, perhaps I’m a little overwhelmed, like a buffet of so many varieties of food, all delicious, but only so much place on my place, and so much appetite. I found myself missing the simplicity of options of my childhood. There were toys for physical dexterity. There were toys that built knowledge, there were toys that encouraged creativity…… but not a single toy that encouraged curiosity. Our world is getting increasingly obsessed with skill building, and moving away from questions that are unanswered. I found myself wishing for toys that not just encourage ability, but toys that encourage curiosity.

While it is important to answer questions that a child asks and create a diversity of knowledge, I believe that it if you really want your child to grow “more” than you, or to the best of his abilities, he needs to develop a curiosity for what lies beyond his horizons. It may be about how gymnasts train, or what extreme cold feels like, or what infinity is like for simple stuff, or even what would be the physics of black holes. He needs to be exposed to more questions he doesn’t know the answer to, can’t easily get answers to, I don’t know the answers to, and perhaps even those no one, not even experts can explain…..

Didn’t find anything designed for this, though I guess everything can be used for that, but then I don’t need toys for it, right? I realized that the world is changing. The nature of toys reflects that. I realized that like any other aspect of life, if I want change, I will have to create it.

Maybe its time for a new business.

2 thoughts on “Evolving toys

  1. Deepa

    Hi Vidyut,

    Landed here from Baby Center. Hope you and Nisarga are doing well.

    My daughter is 6.5 months old and i have always been curious to know what toys / books i can get for her. I wonder if there are such places in Chennai ,where I live . I have visited quite a few baby shops, none seems to have stuff for a 6 month old or am i looking at the wrong places ? Books – i would love to have my daughter explore the world of books..Is she old enough for flash cards now ? I have seen these in Baby shops.. I guess these need to be tear-proof.. Smriti tears away any paper-related object in her hands.. If you know of any other simple (and less expensive) alternatives as well, pls suggest.

    Thanks for sharing,
    – Deepa

  2. admin

    Hi Deepa,

    First of all, THANK YOU for reading my blog and appreciating it by finding it worthy of your question.

    Its a difficult question as to what to get for the baby…. For me, if I have to engage curiosity, I’d go for stuff with minimal jazz. I don’t even think you need to buy stuff till you run out of virtually endless options around you. One word for it – LIFE!

    Plastic buckets (the bathing ones are fine) are great for banging and making noise, show off your own drumming talent to give her something to try to figure out.

    Read people’s T-shirts, shop windows, road signs, name plates on homes you visit, posters on the wall, beautiful and attractive advertising hoardings (free and beautifully designed reading aids by some of the best paid professionals in the country 😛 ).

    Try to share ‘scalable’ stuff. By that, I mean don’t show her ‘something for her’. Share things you genuinely find fun.

    Splashing in the water – this is almost getting extinct with busy parents with no patience for kids to do their thing while they wait to dry them and the excessive paranoia about falling ill is a good excuse. Fact is, you and I got wet as kids and are all the better for it. The only bad thing about it is the warnings, and refusals, and scoldings and stuff surrounding it.

    Even people. Someone acts strange and you can ask her why she thinks it is so. And really listen to her opinion or ask her if she has any facts that lead to this opinion, or how it makes her feel… – you’ll be surprised by how much you will end up learning from the perspective of one who doesn’t need to watch what she says, or sees right through pretenses, because she is too young to understand them. This will encourage her to develop ‘people skills’ in the manner of a scientist rather than pretend manners filled with a whole load of hiding real feelings.

    Encourage her to look ‘under the hood’ of her toys and find out how they work. How is it that a dolls arm can move from the joint like a person, but her back doesn’t bend like a persons? If plastic is rigid, what enables that arm to move? What are its limits? Could she design an arm that could move not just up and down, but in other directions too?

    Sports are very good, though she’s small. Thing is, don’t stand on the side and encourage her to run. Run WITH her. Go like the wind, both of you. Have fun. Now how could you run faster? Why do you get out of breath?

    The world is your playground. I could type till your daughters wedding and still have new ideas coming up. Another fabulous one is “what would you like to do?”

    The key is in posing questions that take her to her own discoveries. Sure, give her some answers too.

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