I am very pleased to include this article by Han-Son Lee, the Founder of DaddiLife, a parenting website for Dads.
If there’s one positive from the Covid-19 crisis, it’s that for many families it has brought newfound creativity, especially for dads. Whether it’s through more active play, or even dusting off older toys and finding new ways to connect with children using them, the pandemic has changed the way dads as a whole are engaging in their children’s lives; many fathers became involved in day-to-day activities. But, for toys especially, it’s been an area of considerable interest as toy play starts to take on new forms and mean very different things to what they used to. Here’s some of the examples:
Toys that now enhance education
Most kids’ toys are educational in one way or another, but they aren’t always considered or played with in that way. With most of the schools closed during the pandemic, it has been essential to help children to learn outside the classroom. One method that a lot of dads are using is to re-think their children’s educational environment through the use of things like teepee tents for kids. By using things like teepee tents, dads have created specific but comforting and safe zones for learning.
And toys have become very important in instilling specific skills and building different interest for kids. Toys like LEGO, for instance, aren’t just great for building, but can be used in more creative ways for developing numbers skills and even creating characters from school books to display in the classroom Zoom call. It’s become a big part of many children’s development by reconsidering the specific learning environment, especially for those who have limited space in the home.
Toy play that brings the family together
It’s often hard to find activities that the family can do together and truly bond over. But toys have become a significant way that families can spend real quality time together.
In fact, toy play that involves the whole family is something we’ve seen and heard across the DaddiLife community that has been embraced wholeheartedly during the pandemic. They have become a chance for parents to be part of their kids’ developmental process and share some quality time. Surprisingly perhaps, it’s not a big board game alone doing this, but the best toys to bring families together are the big toy sets like spinners, or even car/track building. They spark curiosity and adventure in the child and are big enough for parents and older siblings to participate too.
Let’s also be honest here, spending quality time together has become a vital way to ease the stresses that come with the pandemic. Being invested in toys that the family can play together in a fun and adventurous way, isn’t just ideal to teach kids skills and reward good behavior, it’s also just as important for parents in creating a healthy and exciting environment for them too.
Toy play to bond and break isolation within families
Being stuck home with kids in isolation during the coronavirus pandemic is enough to take a toll on anyone. For many parents, the juggle of working and homeschooling, while also lacking a significant way to connect with friends and family on a regular basis, has heightened our own sense of isolation.
For many, breaking the emotional sense of isolation with the family means keeping the toy games simple at first. In fact, you might even want to consider letting the kids choose which games are played together as a family first. Don’t forget, playtime should be fun; and bonding with children is the best way to break the monotony of isolation.
In the same way meal times with families are important connection points, play sessions for families shouldn’t just be about doing the same old thing – but used as a chance to discover something totally new about the family. That way, it really does become something to look forward to during a challenging time.
Reimagining toy play has been a vital part of family togetherness over Covid-19, and it’s my great hope that we can keep these lessons at the top of the family priority list in the months and years ahead as it’s led to much reflection on what quality time can mean, and also how much toys can also help us in our own mental and physical well being ahead.