P lay is essential to children’s healthy development and learning. Children use play to actively construct knowledge, meet social/emotional needs, and acquire life skills. The content of their play comes from their own experiences. Changes in today’s childhood are undermining play. Because of the pervasive influence of the electronic media — such as TV, movies, videos, DVDs, computers — children spend more time sitting in front of a screen and less time playing creatively with each other.
Toys, the tools of children’s play, influence that play. Toys of value enhance children’s natural ability to engage in imaginative, meaningful play by allowing them to try out their own ideas and solve their own problems. Many of today’s toys are highly structured and often linked to popular media images and programs. These toys channel children into imitative play, robbing them of opportunities to use their own imaginations, creativity, and problem solving skills.
Parents are constantly faced with decisions about what toys to buy and what toys to avoid. High-powered marketing and the influence of popular culture interfere with thoughtful decision-making at the toy store.
This guide is intended to help adults promote children’s creative and constructive play by making informed choices about toys, and by working with others at home, school, and in the community to promote positive play and toys.
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* Experiences such as the recent criminal behavior in Newtown CT