No matter how science-y things may get on the 559 blog, there are two things that I hope you come away with:
1. Play is Important
2. Play is Easy
The Importance of Play
While I could write an entire blog series about the importance of play (and hey, I just might), I'll try to sum it up in one post (though it may be a long one). Unfortunately, play gets a bad rap from adults. Things are "just play" or kids are merely "playing around." But for kids, play is vital.
Play is how children explore, understand and begin to make their own mark on the world. For infants, play is how they discover how their bodies work, how physics works, and how interacting with other people works. This discovery continues through childhood, and play is used by children to gain understanding of their entire worlds. Playing house allows understanding of how families and relationships work, finger painting allows for self expression and choice, and tag and go-fish start to form the basis for sharing, justice and healthy social interactions. Needless to say, play, for infants and children, is very serious business.
Play is Easy
As a business, we would love for you to buy our toys. We believe in them, and we hope that you do too. We also believe that play should be universal, and that quality play should never be out-of-reach for any family to provide. Because of this, we donate funds and toys to families in need, but we also want to let you know that nothing in particular is necessary for quality play to happen for your children.
The most important toy or tool that a child can have in play is an attentive adult. Someone to play finger games, to hear the voice of, to make silly faces, to sing, to tickle, to play patty-cake with. The rest is just icing on a perfectly wonderful cake. And the icing does not need to be fancy (though really, we hope you check out our toys).
An example of the ease of good play: One of my son's favourite toys at the moment is a large pink plastic bag clip, bought in a bulk pack from a certain international build-it-yourself furniture chain. He can feel the different surfaces, watch as it bends between his hands, mouth it, bang it and throw it. He's engaging in physical play, developing his physical and cognitive abilities, and is becoming spatially and kinesthetically smart. When we talk about what he's doing as he plays, his language development and linguistic intelligence are nurtured. When we help him bang a rhythm with it, his musicality develops. Later on, we can play passing games with it (games with rules, social development and interpersonal intelligence) or he can sort the whole bag of clips into colours or sizes (cognitive development and logical intelligence). After that, he can use it with some ribbon or string to create something (constructive play). Bag clips are not fancy toys, but they can have endless possibilities in the play of a child. (He also loves his Tabby Square, but I'll try to limit the amount of self-promotion in this post).
So yes, we are a business. We make toys. We hope people buy our toys. But our toys are not a necessary panacea for the development of your child. We also know a fair bit about toys, and the science behind them, and the science regarding play. But play does not need to be complicated.
Above all, we believe that children are important, and that children deserve good play. And that play really is really easy.