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How Do We Decide What’s Best for Our Child?

children playing with bubbles

We all strive to do what’s best for our children. Question is, what does ‘best” mean? Does one size fit all?  Should we consider each child and choose options that best fit what we know about that individual and how she learns? Or go with the flow?

Once we decide what’s best, how do we evaluate the “rightness” of our decision over time? After all, nurturing children isn’t a “set it and forget it “ proposition. It’s one that requires vigilance and willingness to re-evaluate. What we thought the best choice could turn out not to be or to be for less time than we thought.

Beyond that is a plethora of information and opinions. Consider currently prevailing pressure for more academic learning at ever earlier ages.  What’s to be gained? What’s being lost? What are the consequences, both short-term and long? These are issues we need to confront as we weigh what’s best for our children.

Someone who has, both as parent and professional, is Angela Hansom. As a pediatric occupational therapist she focuses on activities of daily living. For a child that includes play. But what happens when children as early as preschool find themselves trading play for a more structured, academic approach to learning?

As a guest blogger for Valerie Strauss’ The Answer Sheet in The Washington Post, Hansom shares her experiences. “The decline of play in preschoolers-and the rise in sensory issues” outlines what she sees as the consequences of society’s push towards structured enrichment activities and academic achievement as early as preschool over early childhood as a time for child directed, open-ended play.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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Reflections on Becoming PlayopolisToys

Seven months have passed since we embarked on our journey to becoming PlayopolisToys Inc.  My head spins when I think of all we have accomplished and all that remains to be done. Despite our best team efforts, time lines, and task lists, we didn’t think of everything and certainly couldn’t control every aspect of the process.

No doubt you expected us to change the outgoing message on our telephone when we transitioned. You’d have been disappointed. Only when Chris Hamel, our rep at KMC Music, called, heard the old greeting, and left a much appreciated reminder that we’d changed our name but not our message, did I think to record a new greeting.

“Rome was not built in a day.” Neither was PlayopolisToys. Despite hiccups and glitches, we migrated to our new domain and are continuing to refine the site. New products will begin appearing once we’ve completed our transition revisions and proofing. To keep an eye on our progress, bookmark PlayopolisToys and visit often.

We’re delighted with the reception PlayopolisToys has received. One of our suppliers, Jim Marielli, emailed “I think the new name is really cute and imaginative, and I love the philosophy behind it!” When I expressed my delight, he elaborated.

Playopolis_Toys_logo_box“I really think it’s a great name, and the message behind it is so genuine and I agree 100% with it. I could go on and on about the benefits of play…my wife and I have 5 children so we are still learning and witnessing the value of play in our personal lives (versus how “social media” is hurting social skills in this younger generation – in my opinion).  Anyways, I just thought you nailed it!  :)”

That’s one man’s opinion. What’s yours?

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play


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What Children Learn from Water Play

Where would children be without water play? Water provides opportunities galore for playing and learning, and in the height of summer, what child doesn’t enjoy cooling off by running through sprinklers and playing in a splash pool?

Flooding sand with water creates another realm of play as children scoop, mold and sculpt the wet sand. Digging and filling channels with water expand the experience as children float objects in the canal, discover what floats – a leaf – and what sinks – an acorn – and figure out why. As the sand absorbs the water and the channels run dry, children discover more about the properties of sand and water. That’s experiential learning at its best.

Filling and pouring, measuring and mixing, using containers of different shapes, sizes, heights and diameters lead to a developmental milestone known as conservation of liquids. This means that a child understands that a specific volume of a liquid is the same whenever the shape, size, height or diameter of the container into which it is poured.

Consider this classic conversion experiment. An adult fills two short, fat beakers with an equal volume of colored liquid and asks a child to verify that the two beakers contain exactly the same amount of the liquid. Once the child and adult agree, the adult pours the contents from one beaker into a tall, narrow one and asks the child if the two beakers contain the same or different amounts. A child understanding the conservation of  liquids  knows the volume remains the same.  One who does not will insist that the taller beaker holds more. Why? Because it’s taller, an opinion based on external appearance. Typically children master this concept between five and seven years old.

More ways to play and learn with water:

add food coloring or bio-colors and explore color mixing

experiment with freezing and thawing to observe how water expands when frozen and contracts as it melts

add leaves, acorns, twigs to water, freeze and observe how being frozen changes the appearance of the findings inside the ice

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play