Perquisites of digital toying

By now it would be clear to our readers that we are aspiring to bring back the wise learning from the Ancient Scriptures in the form of Toys. Strictly the “Toy” is not a comprehensive term to describe the scope of Krida. In fact the meaning of “Toying” is in quite contrast to what it should be. Generally, “toying” is defined as “doing or considering something without seriousness” but actually playing with a toy is such a serious business.
We often fail to gauge the depth a child learns while playing with an object and that is the primary reason for our failure in selecting the perfect Toy for them. It is very easy to get convinced by marketing gimmicks of big toy making companies’ claims backed by paid child psychologists. In fact many parents have started to believe that giving that ergonomically designed, non-toxic, digital toy helps their young ones to learn (rhymes, numbers, phonics, whatever.) quickly. They are right in a way that a kid really learns it much faster by listening to that repeated circuit at the press of a button. As I said the learning is much deeper for children, so there are other things that we fail to observe. Along with toy’s primary function a child also learns that, (i) s/he is the controller, (ii) there is no need to obey anyone to learn something from them, (iii) there is no rhythm, i.e. I can do anything anytime, (iv) no big deal to appreciate the mother nature for beautiful flowers and singing of birds since the same thing is available at my will, whenever and wherever I want. The list can stretched as much as we dive deeper into the different learning dimensions a child explores simultaneously. Believe me after certain extent it becomes beyond our preoccupied mind to understand what a child understands with his little open mind.
Now we are not analyzing the after effects of each of these learning on a long run, that get so deep-rooted at this tender age that are too difficult to unlearn during the entire life time. Let’s discuss only one of them, probably the most important among the listed – rhythm. First we need to understand why a child will not learn a rhythm by playing with such electronic gadgets. There is rhythm everywhere in the nature, our ageing process is very rhythmic, coming and falling of milk-teeth, singing of cuckoo (koel) bird at the arrival of Vastanta Ritu (Spring), ripples in the water and spiral of the shell to name a few. And to witness them (thus learn something from mother nature) one needs to be in sync with that rhythm. Simply to watch the beauty of fireflies, you must visit them at Night. With the luxury of playing digital equipment at will, one loses the very taste for this beautiful gift of nature. This is a gradual process, that do no happen in a matter of couple of incidences. We can go on counting the drawbacks of not learning to be in rhythm, right from the personal habits like not going to the latrine in the morning, not following appointed time, difficulties in maintaining relationships, fails to observe natural wonders around us and ultimately unable to feel the presence of supreme being.
I’m keeping it up to the reader to think how a small change of replacing a digital equipment with yourself or their dear granny to sing rhymes, would make a difference. They will have to be in rhythm to make it happen, and that will make all the difference down the line.

Let there be a toy

What is a TOY, by the way? The Oxford dictionary defines a toy as “An object for a child to play with, typically a model or miniature replica of something.”

I would like to modify it a bit and say, Anything that can be used as an object to learn and simultaneously gives fun can be said a Toy. Almost every parent have this experience of how their young ones treat almost any object as a play thing. Be it a matchbox, kitchen utensils, garments, and even their virtual imaginary things, kids use it as a medium (resource) of joy at the same time they learn something that we (the grownup) usually fail to observe. So fundamentally there is no need to buy Toys, it has to be ‘made’ out of something, anything. Let us first understand the term “made”, we take it bit seriously and establish a giant factory at the cost of environment to manufacture tons of highly mechanized, sophisticated things that we call “Toys”. The same term means so simple to kids, that they can ‘make’ a Car out of a Matchbox just by dragging it on to the surface. In a moment, it gets converted into an Airplane and starts flying into the sky. It is us, the grownup (please observe the meaning, who has stopped growing anymore – no pun intended) likes to resemble every plaything as close to the reality as possible, so we think of paining the matchbox to look colorful, add wheels, make it of plastic so that it don’t get spoil in bad stormy weather!, have some electronic light and sound effect, remotely controlled etc. and there we kill the imagination of our otherwise genius child. S/he must have great imagination around the matchbox of an airplane that we could not think of because for us it’s the job of the Airbus and Boeing designers. The moment we replace the Matchbox with a ready made, out of the box Airplane toy, we are killing their imagination along with lot of other learning experiences.

Does it mean that, there should not be any toy? Fortunately, the answer is there is need of it. This will look contradictory to the what we just discussed of not having or purchasing out of the box toys. There are references of toys even in ancient times and revered scriptures. We have archeologists excavated toys that are thousands of years old found around the world from ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Indus Valley civilizations. The secret lies in making toys together, now please don’t complicate the meaning of “making toys”, it can be as simple as acting like you are a bus driver and you kid is sitting in it, or making a paper airplane. Don’t underestimate yourself as a parent, no need to visit every activity workshop, parenting seminars, child psychology readings, not even follow our blogs, there will be lot many things to learn even while making a paper airplane, for both of you.

The wise thing to do is knowing what is being served to these little kids on the name of toys and what it should be. A toy must have a learning component. Learning can be anything, as per the age, interest and grasping capacity of the child, it can be sensing the surface of the object, it can be the sound produced while dropping the object, its color, its taste, what its shape resembles to a particular child, how it can be disassembled or opened, the list can be endless. It should spark curiosity into the mind and allow to build some imagination for how to use it? There should not be a structured way to play with a toy, yes playing games are different things, they have rules. There was no need to stress this much on explaining as simple thing as a toy. Unfortunately we are living in a time when we have best selling books on How to Win Friends & Influence People!, so I have to write on a toy too.