Toys play an important role in children’s development. Simple and open-ended toys such as blocks, simple dolls, and toy miniatures, provide a wealth of opportunities in firing up children’s imagination and creativity, improving language development, and developing fine motor skills.
There is a case, however, of having too much toys. According to research conducted by Zero to Three’s Claire Lerner, having too many toys can be overwhelming and distracting for children. When distracted, play and learning opportunities are diminished. Another research by United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Council says that children with fewer toys but with parents who spend a lot of time with them perform better than those who have many toys.
Parents, therefore, should consider providing an environment that is conducive to playing and learning instead of just buying all the new toys in the market. Regularly trimming down the number of toys that our children have at home is the first step towards this.
Here are some of thing things that you can do to keep your child’s toys at a minimum.
1. Spring-clean at least every quarter. It is a good idea to have a regular schedule for cleaning and sorting our children’s things. Kids outgrow toys or easily lose interest in them. Checking every quarter for toys that are no longer played with allows us to just keep those that are still relevant to our children’s lives. With the -ber months here, and Christmas just around the corner, now is the time to do some cleaning up.
2. Get a toy, give a toy. Another good rule of thumb to not having to live with a mountain range of toys is to give away a toy for each one that your child receives. In this way, he is forced to think of which objects he really values and wants to keep.
3. Find a new home for the toys. After cleaning up or choosing which toys to give up, the next step is to look for whom to give the items to. Involving the kids in this part is like hitting two birds with one stone. We teach them generosity and at the same time clear up some space in our homes.
It is important to remember that toys for giving away should still be in good or at least serviceable condition. Here are some ideas:
1. People you know There are many other children who can benefit from our children’s old toys. Less fortunate members of our extended family are good beneficiaries; our household helpers and their kin will also be appreciative of whatever toys you might give them. For some, giving to people they know is better than donating to charities.
2. Church offices Churches usually have outreach programs for the indigent communities that they care for. Call your local parish or church group about donations.
3. Orphanages Orphanages with limited funding are always open to donations of books, clothes, and toys. Their library of playroom will benefit from any items that you will be giving them. Some of these are: • Tahanan ng Pagmamahal, Pasig City • Create Responsive Infants by Sharing, Phils. (C.R.I.B.S.), Marikina City • White Cross, San Juan City
4. Community centers or libraries Public libraries and community centers in our country are in such dire straits that donations from the public are always welcome. If your barangay has a library, chances are high that toys will be welcome as well.
On the other hand, Philippine Toy Library works with local government offices in creating children’s spaces in the barangay level. It provides the experience of play in underprivileged children through the toys that they accept through donation.
5. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs Some companies have corporate social responsibility initiatives. Jollibee, for one, has their “Maaga ang Pasko” program that accepts toy donations around Christmas time. They distribute the toys that they collect to less fortunate children.
Toys are wonderful, but our children do not need a lot of them in order to thrive. Let us give them the opportunity to play deeply with the few toys that they do have. Regularly sorting through our children’s toys and giving them away will also benefit our family and not just the recipients of our largesse; by letting go of excess materials and sharing them with others, we are setting an example of generosity to our children.