Following on from my most recent blog, The Slow Toy Movement, (read at www.tildaandtom.co.uk/the-slow-toy-movement ), I have great pleasure in introducing the campaign arm of Tilda and Tom – The Real Toy Network.
The Real Toy Network was born out of my observation that the toys marketed to parents as “educational” (think the plastic, beeping, button flashing, talking at children in an American accent type) don’t have anywhere near as much play value or learning possibilities as classic, “made to last” toys. In the technologically dependent world of today, there is a huge place for technology, but hopefully not at the expense of “real toys”, whose value is at least as great.
In a nutshell, real toys teach children to do things for themselves. Mass-market toys talk at them and do things for them.
Also at the heart of the Real Toy Network is the unhappy fact that children in the UK are being formally educated too soon and the value of play-based learning is being eradicated. Of course, this is in defiance of what we see in our neighbouring countries in Europe who postpone formal education to age seven and, as research suggests, have a higher standard of education at age 16. From the age of five, British children embark on a regime of being “taught to the test” and there is less emphasis on “learning through doing”.
We advocate that it is becoming increasingly more and more important that parents invest in toys, books, puzzles and games that inspire children’s imaginations. We also advocated that in today’s world it is vital that parents set aside huge chunks of time where children can play and just be “children”.
We also advocate no upper age limit for a good quality toy. Real toys are for newborn babies all the way through to teens and beyond. Similarly, although tradition may indicate certain types of toys are more likely to be favoured by either boys or girls, we feel it is important that toys aren’t labelled with a gender so that little boys are free to play with dolls and little girls are free to play with cars and trains.
What is a “real toy”
“Made to Last” Wooden Desk-top Cooker by Djeco
2) Real toys are timeless classics. They can be described as traditional, vintage, retro or even modern, but they will still have their foundations firmly rooted in classic toy-making.
Timeless classic – Farm Animal Dominoes by Vilac
3) Real toys are eco-friendly. Think wood from sustainable forests, organically harvested cotton, recycled cardboard and paper. They are usually not plastic, unless plastic provides the best or only solution (e.g. a bath toy).
4) Real toys have great design! They are beautiful to look at and can become ornamental once stored away on a nursery, bedroom or playroom shelf.
5) Real toys know no age or gender boundary. We never say, “you’re too old to play with that,” or “that’s a girls’ toy” as real toys are fun for all ages and all genders. These are toys which parents and grandparents will be eager to get down on their knees and play with alongside their children and grandchildren.
Farm Animal Stacking Game by Vilac (a firm favourite with everyone in our house!)
6) Real toys are heirlooms. They will pass the “attic test” and families will want to keep them to pass down to future generations.
- 7) Real toys NEVER require batteries.
We exist to provide information.
Firstly, we want to bring you news stories, articles, features and even essays which support our core belief that the educational value of “real toys” surpasses those of the mass-market, plastic or electronic equivalent. We want to promote the merits of learning through good, imaginative play.
Secondly, we want to introduce you to some of the finest toys in the world via the social media pages of leading toy-makers, as well as industry and print media features.
You can find the Real Toy Network at www.facebook.com/realtoynetwork