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Thread: They want toys to get their children into Harvard

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    Question They want toys to get their children into Harvard

    They want toys to get their children into Harvard: have we been getting playthings all wrong?


    For decades weve been using toys to cram learning into playtime and toys have been marketed as tools to turn children into prosperous, high-achieving adults. Is it time for a rethink?


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    The week my eldest son finished nursery, I decided to clear out the playroom where he had spent much of his young life forming bonds with inanimate objects. Toys had kept him company whenever other duties or distractions had occupied his mother and me, and over the years we had amassed a truly crass number of them. As I sifted through pile after pile, I felt as though I was in the pit of an immense archaeological dig. I had not considered us to be particularly pushy or indulgent parents; mostly, I wanted my children to grow up to be financially independent and live lives of nothing worse than common unhappiness. But the artefacts in our playroom midden told another tale.


    Here is a partial inventory of what I found: 13 floor puzzles, including several meant to teach the alphabet. Two sets of magnetic tiles, along with dozens of figurines and matchbox cars, for constructive and imaginary play. Xylophones and tambourines to foster musical ability, and a smattering of finger paints to inspire artistic creativity. Four logic games and a set of dice for practising maths. A speaker box that could play Mozart or childrens versions of the Iliad and Odyssey. Endless Duplo. And, to teach our kids how to unwind after the vigorously pedagogical afternoon those other things were meant to facilitate, the Fisher-Price Meditation Mouse, an electronic plush toy offering guided stretching and relaxation exercises (advertising copy: help your little one learn how to nama-stay relaxed).


    Our heap of playthings may have been extreme, but it was by no means atypical. American families spend, on average, around $600 per year on toys; a typical 10-year-old child in the UK may have possessed 238 toys in her short life, totalling about 6,500. That abundance bespeaks an entire world of a postwar boom in plastics, babies and disposable income, of humans in Chinese factories and Madison Avenue marketing agencies, of the not always benign neglect of parents with relentless careers or hangovers or an aversion to spending time with other emotionally volatile beings. Above all, perhaps, the glut of toys reveals a particular vision of what play and childhood are for

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    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeands...young-children
    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeands...young-children
    Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect. -- Woody Hayes​

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    We used to have a society where the wife could stay home and raise the kids, and the father could provide for the entire family on one income.

    Toys have historically been geared to teaching kids to grow up - toy dolls girls pretended to care for. Toy guns and knives boys played with to imitate their fathers. Wooden blocks with letters on the sides to teach the alphabet.

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    I had a secretary once that bought her brat all the educational toys ~ and then complained that they never left the closet.
    Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect. -- Woody Hayes​

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    I didn't really have toys as such.
    I more built my toys than purchased all wrapped up. Model aircraft and model boats were our mainstay. At that time, the world was ours because we had a very extensive hobby store in town. He literally had everything in that store.
    Today, it has to come ready to go out of the package. Very few can fix what they break. Junk pile or yard sale.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LescoBrandon View Post
    We used to have a society where the wife could stay home and raise the kids, and the father could provide for the entire family on one income.
    When I was a kid, my Mom stayed home with my brother and me and my Dad was a truck driver for Esso, which became Exxon. For whatever reason, I remember him once saying that he made $28,000 a year. That was probably around 1970 or so, so that would've been like him making just north of $200K now...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Street Glider View Post
    When I was a kid, my Mom stayed home with my brother and me and my Dad was a truck driver for Esso, which became Exxon. For whatever reason, I remember him once saying that he made $28,000 a year. That was probably around 1970 or so, so that would've been like him making just north of $200K now...
    Yep. My grandad raised five kids working for the railroad while my grandmother stayed home. They even were able to buy 100 acres.

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    Books and more books. A child who learns early both the joys and the value of reading will have a huge advantage throughout life. Even more so if they are encouraged to write, themselves. As for which books, I think it's a mistake to limit the range of the books a parent provides a kid to just overtly "educational" material. A child should learn that it's okay to read and enjoy books that are silly, scary, exciting, or that may help a child to understand and be able to express emotions (like Shel Silverststeins's 'The Giving Tree').

    I frequently check out the book sections of the local second-hand stores, and it's always good to see a parent (it's usually a mother, but not always) looking through the books in the kids' section and talking about them with their kids. I've heard children who were probably only four or five talking about the books they wanted to read in such an articulate, yet excited way. There's plenty to be said for other activities, of course, but there's just no substitute for growing up with a love of reading for providing someone a head start in life.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LescoBrandon View Post
    We used to have a society where the wife could stay home and raise the kids, and the father could provide for the entire family on one income.

    Toys have historically been geared to teaching kids to grow up - toy dolls girls pretended to care for. Toy guns and knives boys played with to imitate their fathers. Wooden blocks with letters on the sides to teach the alphabet.
    Well we have far more toys for adults these days. No not adult toys, but maybe them to.
    My parents owned a boat and 2 vehicles: No sno-mobiles, no Quad runners, no little sports car for summers only, no cable TV or Direct TV, computers, laptops or cell phones, one tv. Recreation cost more than it used to, making the one earner family even more out of sight for most families.

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    A smart kid will figure out if a toy is more about learning than fun. And if it feels like school it ain't that fun.


    Learning with toys has a place but don't go over the top!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Standing Wolf View Post
    Books and more books. A child who learns early both the joys and the value of reading will have a huge advantage throughout life. Even more so if they are encouraged to write, themselves. As for which books, I think it's a mistake to limit the range of the books a parent provides a kid to just overtly "educational" material. A child should learn that it's okay to read and enjoy books that are silly, scary, exciting, or that may help a child to understand and be able to express emotions (like Shel Silverststeins's 'The Giving Tree').

    I frequently check out the book sections of the local second-hand stores, and it's always good to see a parent (it's usually a mother, but not always) looking through the books in the kids' section and talking about them with their kids. I've heard children who were probably only four or five talking about the books they wanted to read in such an articulate, yet excited way. There's plenty to be said for other activities, of course, but there's just no substitute for growing up with a love of reading for providing someone a head start in life.



    Knowing people who worked at the library in my former community I was pleased to hear that most kids and even teens are still reading books. In fact Young Adult books are big these days. The sad news is that adults aged 20-50 don't seem to read much preferring Wifi computer access and DVD's. Older folks like me still read of course.
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