Sunday Books: “Toys Are NOT Us”

We are continuing with our look at Thomas Poplawski’s book “Completing The Circle”. Again, this book is available for free online at the Waldorf Library.  Today we come to the chapter regarding consumerism and children’s toys:

Manufactured, ready-to-use toys are more present in our lives and in the lives of our children than at any time before in history. This is the result of aggressive product development, advertising, and marketing by large toy companies. These companies are primarily interested in toys that will sell and make a profit, not in toys that will foster the healthy development of children.

Research has shown the benefits of less toys, less structured toys, and a childhood based in play and song.  Having less toys increases the chances that children will engage in social play.  Simpler toys provides the child a chance to construct their own world of play.

If a small child under the age of 7 is truly a being of the senses, then attention should be given to the details of toys:  are they natural materials or plastic?  Are we sending the message as parents to our children that more is better because of the quantity of toys we have endowed our children with?  Are we trying to buy time apart or away from our children with specific toys because our own family culture is too fast-paced?

These are difficult questions to ask ourselves, but ones that deserve an honest look and an honest answer.

There are many suggestions in this chapter to help parents work toward reducing the load of toys and materialism in the home. Some suggestions include remembering that simple toys are best (remember the jokes about children enjoying the box that a toy came in more than the toy itself is true!), to feel free to limit media and catalogue and shopping exposure, to not be afraid to set limits on things like birthday gifts by asking only for art supplies or seeds for the garden, teaching our children to be creative doers and not seek passive entertainment, asking for gifts that involve doing as a family rather than just another toy to sit in a closet somewhere.

Another interesting chapter!


2 thoughts on “Sunday Books: “Toys Are NOT Us”

  1. Do you know where to find any research online on play/toys in early childhood?? Or could you post a link to this chapter or book from the library? “Because we are their parents” seems to me like it should be a good enough explanation for why we choose a simple childhood for our children, but it isn’t, nor is the evidence of the rich imaginative play and resourceful problem-solving activities in the children themselves.

    • MLE – I would try Lifeways of North American or Alliance for Childhood as starting points.

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