Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Swedish Parenting: This toy will teach you how to play!

This little plastic doohickey will turn your child into the smartest baby on the planet. He/she will learn music, shapes, reading, artithmatic, particle physics and ice skating all while mastering the skill of walking.

OK, it sounds over the top. But just a quick look at, the US version, will show you that Americans have a tendency to take the 'educational' value of toys very seriously.

Personally I get the idea of having big chunky things in plastic, they are durable. I even get the idea of having a few battery powered toys that spin around or play a song, since they are mesmerizing. 

But what I don't get? How does a tinny, poor quality recording of Mozart being played on an electric keyboard enrich my child's life in the slightest? Or make them smarter? How does having fifteen different activity buttons, latches, knobs, shapes and colours within arms reach from the age of 6 months make it any easier for my child to learn to cope with the world?

As it is at the moment, at home we only have a handful of toys. Only one makes noise. A bunch are plastic and colourful. LO's favorite game is ripping up magazines and putting the pieces into old gift bags. Or walking behind the little car he got and pushing it along. LO also likes stacking the toys on top of each other or putting them inside each other. Putting them on a table, or under the sofa is also fun.

Through these actions I might guess that LO is learning about space, size, how things fit together. I'm sure LO is also learning a bit about shapes and color.

Most of the toys made in Sweden tend to be wooden and clunky and silent. On the package there is nothing about what the wooden thing with wheels might teach your child. 

We don't have anything that plays Mozart, but occasionally I do put some Mozart on Spotify and we have it on in the background. I also put on Phish and Jazz For Kids. I don't know if these will make LO as smart as Mozart might, but we like to dance to them.

One thing I have learned to love about Sweden is that they really embrace the idea of babies being babies, kids being kids. The pressure is to 'enjoy childhood' not to 'become a baby genious.' So there will be no flashcards in our house (except for that one Iphone app I have that has flashcard animal noises, which is a lifesaver on long car trips). But I won't play toy police either.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, just found your blog. It's halarious!!! Just simply love it! I am a Swede living in Maine, US (with my american husband) for the last 6yrs.
    It's so much fun to read your look at Sweden, I read it out laud to my man. Trying not to laugh to much so I can make sence;-)

    Will be back for more reading! I used to have a blog about being a mom in America and how diffrent it is here (drives me a little crazy somedays... my son just started kindergarten and they are sopposed to learn to count from 1-100 before the end of the year. AND read 8 words! .. One of the things I miss the most is the Swedish mentality of " children being childen":-)

    (excuse my spelling;-)