As pediatricians and child psychologists tell us, play comes naturally to children. Beginning as newborns, children use the activity of play to learn and understand the world around them.
Children don’t need to learn how to play: it is spontaneous, joyful and voluntary. And as they play, they naturally incorporate toys—that is, any objects that become intriguing because of their shape, material or color.
Recently, the relationship between child and toy formed the cornerstone of a novel activity organized at the CCE preschool by Peter Banášová, its director.
Mr. Banášová charted a difficult task for the preschoolers: to bring one of their toys from home and give it to another child. “For children in this age group, the exchange of toys is challenging and, thus, a pretty emotional activity,” he said.
The purpose of the Toy Bazaar, he said, was to teach children about sharing. “We tagged each toy with the name of its owner. Then, children took turns drawing slips of paper with the name of another child. It was amazing to see their baby faces full of expectation about the toy they might get.”
The Toy Bazaar proved to be thought-provoking for the children. They learned that their toys—both the original toy they gave and the new one they received—were donated to them out of love. For this reason, it was important that they take care of the toy they received. In addition, they learned that gifts given to them out of love include the gifts of play and rest.
Children learned the joy of giving—and then, the joy of receiving. Said Mr. Banášová: “It was a valuable lesson for the children: they took home a beautiful ‘new’ toy while also experiencing the joy of giving.”
The Toy Bazaar at CCE’s preschool, which opened its doors in 2012, demonstrates that even our youngest students can become adept at practicing lovingkindness. Today, the preschool serves 3- to 6-year olds at an annual cost to families of $780—a significant expense for Slovak families. CCE’s Family Fund helps young families invest in their children’s education. For information on donating to the Family Fund, contact Sisa Schudichova at firstname.lastname@example.org.