Playing is different from having toys. And usually, the two things are connected. When you think of a kid playing, you probably imagine her with a toy in her hand. But not necessarily fun has to happen this way and it has a very positive side to it. Explaining: Experience without the toy – the one we go to and buy at a store-is also very important for child development.
This does not mean that you should be radical and not give any toy to the children. But, an object at home, such as a spoon, a bowl, a cushion or a cardboard box are not classified as toys, but they are equally important. At the moment of play, they have a playful function.
Why is it important for the child to play without the purchased toy? According to Teresa Ruas, a consultant in child development at Fisher-Price and mother of Maitê, mainly because it gives wings to imagination, creation, fantasy and symbolization. That is, she will imagine that a cardboard box is a house or a castle and that the spoon, for example, is an airplane. In practice, it is the transformation of real and common objects into larger things.
To fantasize, to symbolize, to create to transform are basic elements for the affective and cognitive development of the human being. They are also the fuel so that the child can develop these skills in a refined way. From two to seven years, on average, the element of fantasy will be present all the time. Older children also do this, but with less frequency.
According to Teresa, the important thing, when a box turns into a rocket, is that the children connect what they already know to what they are developing. “Childhood and fantasy empower the issues that contribute to the formation of the child,” says the child development consultant.
Where Do Toys Come In?
OK, the concrete toy, one that does not require transformation and symbolization, is also important. For example, the farm that your child created can be complemented by some toy that brings concreteness to what it really is, like a set of little animals. It unites these two things to the same goal, increasing the playful effect and the connection between what she knows and what she wants to learn.
Another point where living with toys is important is when your child plays with a puzzle or a game that has rules, for example, as this helps to exercise specific issues that the child needs to have, such as memory and logical reasoning. The big question is to complement the function of a toy and a household object or recycled product. It’s worth noting: you do not have to allow a 6-month-old child to explore a cardboard object, since it probably goes through the mouth. It is important that she play with objects that match the age range.
What About Technology?
For Teresa Ruas, cell phones, tablets, and computers in early childhood (0 to 6 years) should be avoided.”Early childhood is a phase that requires very concrete experiences. To know what a carrot is, you have to see, feel, catch, manipulate, bite and understand what it is, “he says. “When they stay on the tablet alone, personal experience is hindered,” he adds.
Children need face-to-face contact. Having contact with the image and sound of a dog that is on the tablet, does not pass the notion of what a real dog is, of course! When one has contact with real objects, one understands what objects are in fact. And, yes, sometimes it is necessary to use these technological resources. For example, you are at the pediatrician and the child is restless. To calm her down, put a picture on your cell phone. We know this helps and works, but these resources can not be the fun and distracting sources all the time.
Consulting: Teresa Ruas, Fisher-Price child development consultant, master in special education, doctor in collective health science and mother of Maitê, 3 years.