Let me first look at what are considered to be traditional toys. I will look at these in no special order, and take BOOKS first.
Books are not so much toys, as essentials for communication and education. The fact that they create enjoyment and pleasure makes them a “toy” in my opinion. It is wonderful as a grandparent to read the old fairy stories and nursery rhymes from the same books that you read to your own children! The tales are timeless and tell the stories of right and wrong, the beautiful and the ugly, of daring deeds and not so daring deeds, concealment of good nature and that looks alone are not the only factor. The story books with their pictures are the toddler’s way of learning about life, feelings and recognition of emotions and so his other toys become part of his learning process and education. By other toys I am introducing the SOFT TOY as the next traditional toy.
These soft toys are the real traditional toys. On Antiques Roadshow, they show Teddy Bears and porcelain dolls as real collector’s items, worth a lot of money. However, to a child the teddy or soft dog, or rag doll is an essential member of their family who is loyal and returns love to them in insecure moments in the night or day; who they can smack and take out their frustrations on, who never complains. My children have all had a “security blanket” toy; Mary my eldest had a lamb, who as the rhyme said went everywhere that Mary did ( the trauma when you lose such a toy is unbelievable!) and my son Peter had a rabbit and the ears of this rabbit were chewed and had to be replaced fairly often. Even into their thirties they have a drawer with these toys in and have shown their children their “friend”! Problem children who have emotional behaviour often need the security of a soft toy.
.Dolls parties, doctors and nurses and shops are all games which help the children become used to the outside world and they are communicating with the family and their toys. Teachers say that young children entering school at 4 and a half to 5 years old have difficulties in listening and speaking since they have spent so long in front of the TV and not had the participation in parental play time. Hearing my granddaughter speaking to her soft toys and lining them all up is a joy as her imagination is so vivid.
Next I come to the outside toys which give the child freedom and exercise. FOOTBALLS, SWINGS, BATS, BALLS, HOOPS and so many more. The equipment has changed over the years but the “toys” they play with are roughly the same and give the child the ability to strengthen and extend themselves physically. Also the ride on toys: the bicycle, tricycle, pedal cars, pedal planes, scooters, these are a great way of learning discipline and are a great way of having fun and exercising and strengthening little bodies.
WOODEN TOYS are my next toy. The bricks for construction, the tops to spin, the wooden push along truck and the wooden foot to floor push along. These toys have been remade in the cheaper plastic but the toxicity of the plastic which is always put into the children’s mouths, worries me. The wooden toys give the child freedom of imagination and creativity in play. The creation of “Meccano” in the 1950s and later on Lego, boys and girls were both given the opportunity of becoming embryonic engineers with the hand and finger dexterity becoming very important.
When the weather was bad or the evening dark and long and TV for children did not extend beyond 6 o’clock BOARD GAMES were a wonderful way for a family to be together and create a competitive atmosphere and learn about winning and losing. My middle daughter never really mastered losing, she has gone on to be a very successful leader in her field and she still remembers the games she lost!This is a very important lesson in life, there are both winners AND losers.!
To me the traditional toys helped the family co-ese, established and extended relationships within the family. They also helped the children take on responsibility for their belongings, by putting them away and not leaving them outside to rot and rust. They also learnt to be responsible for their own space. The pre-school child learns so much through their toys and later in school, learns the social inter activity of toys and the joys of sharing.
Here I show my age and resistance to change! I have enjoyed the gradual development of TV and I spend time in front of the TV watching programmes I enjoy, but I also like to use the off button and there is no time in my life for day time TV. There’s more to life. If children are sat in front of a TV from a very early age, their understanding is limited because the moving pictures move too fast for their comprehension. If the parent watches for a short time with the child and they watch an age related programme, the benefits are in learning new words and sayings, learning colours, numbers and letters.It’s a shared experience and the parent can repeat the sayings and it becomes an on-going experience. If the child is on their own in front of the screen there is very little benefit, but I know from experience it is a wonderful baby sitter!