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Segmented thoughts

Oct 5, 2010

raising balanced, high achieving daughters through play

If you have been reading my blogs you know that I put a lot of thought into the toys I allow my daughter to play with. I prefer toys that are natural because they stimulate the mind encouraging the child to think and discover, with out over stimulating. They also tend to provide a way to develop the life skills that children tend to naturally imitate you(and those around them). With my daughter imitating me she tends to do things that are stereotypically girly. Before I proceed, I am not against my daughter developing nurturing habits, in-fact I think it is desirable. Still, I sometimes wonder if I am providing her with enough opportunities to develop other skills. As an educator I am fully aware that girls lag behind in math and science skills. I feel we play a role in what types of thinkers we raise. If we limit our daughters to "girl toys" we will be limiting them to the house, or at minimum forcing them to run up hill if they choose a job that is not in a field that women traditionally work.

I am now challenging myself to encourage other types of play(while not discouraging her current play patterns). I took out the play doe and ball and purchased a set of Melissa and Doug Blocks on Wheels(a big hit). Still I was running into a brick wall and then I remembered a book I read when I was pregnant and decided to skim back through it.

The book I am referring to is Entitled Growing A Girl: Seven Strategies For Raising A strong, Spirited Daughter, by Dr. Barbara Mackoff. The chapter that I have re and re read several times is Chapter 17, Teach Her to learn Through Play. This chapter discusses what children learn during play, how toys socialize and develop or limit skills. It challenges the parent to look at the products they have been buying for their girl. She gives you several examples on how to use toys to raise a thinker. Here I will post a part of a section, What Toys Teach, that I found particularly useful.

Spatial Skills- Three-dimensional space, distance
Blocks, Tinkertoys, Legos, Erector sets, Lincoln Logs, Bowling sets,basket- balls, T-ball, puzzles, Duplos, transportation toys:trains, trucks, cars.

Relationship/Nurturing Skills- role-playing, empathy care-taking: Dolls, puppets, stuffed animals, and animal figurines.

Science Skills- Collecting, identifying, observing, classifying:
Magnets. chemistry sets, ant farm, magnifying glass, binoculars, telescope, shell or rock collection.

Verbal Skills/ Linguistic Skills.- Spelling, vocabulary, reading:
Alphabet puzzles and games, puppet theater, Scrabble.

Mechanical Concepts Skills- tinkering, fixing assembling:
Model trains, tool kits, model car and airplane kits.

Math Skills- estimating, counting, distance, weight, volume, patterns:
Dominoes, Chutes and Ladders, Candy land, cooking sets.

Creativity- storytelling, picturing, portraying
puppets, modeling paints, crayons, craft kits.

Strategic Problem solving- tic-tac-toe, Uno, Connect Four, chess checkers.

Dr. Mackoff's list is a good place to start. Rereading this chapter has inspired me to reflect on the toys my daughter owns and the ones I have been thinking of buying. As I already think about what skills a toys develops when I shop, I think before I shop I should think what skills is she not developing though her play and then look for things to meet that need.

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