…your home is a giant playground
….a bowl of water can provide hours of entertainment
….a simple bag of wooden pegs or cardboard box is tons of fun
…the galley holds enough interest (or food!) to occupy you all day
…you can learn to sail
This is not to say that we are horrible parents who deprive Sophia of toys or that I am condemning people who do provide their children with lots of toys but it is merely an observation that given the option, most toddlers that I know will choose to explore or play with something that isn’t a designated toy rather than raid the toybox. With the exception of a few ‘cuddlies’ and balls (the current obsession!) Sophia will always opt to explore some unexplored nook of the boat, read a book, do some colouring or generally wreak havoc in the galley rather than play dutifully with the lovingly picked toys that we have provided her with!
In my desire to home educate, I have started to read about different educational philosophies and gather that this is what Montessori/Steiner folk are getting at – that playing with everyday items will encourage your child’s imagination and entertain them much more than the latest electronic, plastic contraption designed to give parents a headache with lots of flashing lights and tinny music!
Luckily for us, this ties in well to our living situation on the boat. We had to discard nearly everything we owned when we moved on board and have now implemented a one-in-one-out policy of everything on board and are living rather frugally in comparison to our former lifestyle. If Sophia had been attached to lots of toys when we moved on I think we would have found it very hard to take them off her so we were especially grateful that she was more excited about her new home than concerned about what quietly found its way to freecycle or charity shops.
One of our biggest concerns about moving on board was that she might miss out on some opportunities that her peers (in more conventional living situations) are afforded but the more time we spend on board makes me realise that this isn’t the case at all. If anything, developmentally she appears to be trying to do it all at once – running around like a mad thing, climbing on everything she finds while providing you with a running commentary of what’s going on (even if we have absolutely no idea what she’s trying to say)! We have started to trust her more on deck as she seems to have grasped the idea of the sea we are floating in (although she did test the float on my keys the other day by chucking them in at the excitement of coming home to find Dan on board) and have more or less totally settled in to being a family of 3 gently bobbing the days away.
So I say out with the overflowing toy boxes, lets give our kids the freedom to explore their homes fully, not worrying if they take apart your kitchen or litter the floor with books and scrawled on bits of paper. And trust them! They understand much more than we give them credit for, they can get involved with cooking, cleaning and everyday household chores and yes, they probably will hinder you but what’s the rush anyway?