Educational Toys: The Shocking Truth

Hello. I am Toy Cash Register. I was purchased by a woman who thought I would be a wonderland of early numeracy skills for her young children. Along with my life-like cash register noises, weight scale and mechanical drawer, my manufacturer also installed fun money games in my simple computing system. Children can spend hours of imaginative time playing “store”, while also learning the foundations of mathematics and financial responsibility.

Unfortunately, the sad reality is that I’ve never been used for this purpose. I spend my days sitting in the corner of the room with my companion, Lemonade Stand. Here we are together. Instead of the paper money and coins that I came with, my drawer is now filled to the brim with plastic necklace beads. Similarly, the wooden fruits and vegetables that accompanied Lemonade Stand have been replaced with random toys, which are periodically scooped off the floor by annoyed children and shoved into Lemonade Stand’s ergonomically slanted display bins as their mother yells ultimatums regarding the cleanliness of household rooms. Lemonade Stand and I have been reduced to glorified storage units. It’s humiliating and morally deflating.

We are just two examples of a dark truth lurking in the seemingly happy playrooms of our society. The misuse of educational toys is a problem plaguing homes across America and it must be stopped. Well-meaning yuppie parents see us as the answer to their children’s early development, yet we are set up for failure. We can never achieve our intended purpose and ultimately we lead lives of dysfunction and shame. Today we are here to raise awareness about this alarming issue wreaking havoc on the toy community and parents’ bank accounts.

Another example of this sad dilemma is our friend Learn-to-Count Puzzle Set. His genius design encourages young, motivated minds to count the items and find the corresponding number piece. Sadly, he has never been fully assembled. No child ever learned a number from the magical educational experience he could have provided. Instead, seven of his pieces were stacked on top of each other and used to replace the missing caster on Kitchen Set (also a glorified storage unit). This same kind of dysfunctional fate rings true for Learn-to-Tell-Time Clock, See and Spell Board Game and so many other comrades in the sad farce we call the educational toy industry.

Only you have the power to stop this tragic cycle of educational toy misuse. Don’t bring us into this world when you know in your heart we will never truly fulfill our purpose. As much as you want your little one to be like that idyllic-looking child on the box, who is engaging in appropriate playtime use of the LeapFrog Shapes Picnic Basket, you need to be honest with yourself and face the facts. That is not your child. Those colorful pieces will be scattered and lost throughout your house within 48 hours. The plastic basket will become a vessel  with which your child will transport rocks, twigs and dead leaves from your yard to your carpet. Please stop kidding yourself!

Instead, create a new reality. Contribute to a world where toys like us are no longer born into lives of shame. Stop buying these misrepresented educational toys. Let the raw materials in us be used to create items children will actually play with, like Tupperware containers, cardboard boxes, plastic cups and retired cell phones. Use the time you would have spent researching the latest educational gadgetry to read your child a book, count out some pasta on the high chair or sing a song.

We can promise you, we aren’t worth it. We will only bring you grief when one day you lug us to your car and drive us to a local charity for donation, all the while calculating in your head the amount of money you spent on us and the amount of time your children spent playing with us in the manner for which we were intended.

About the Author

Mom, wife, friend and change agent traveling the world with my family to learn our place in it. After spending a career in organizational change management and community initiative implementation, I put my career on hold for our family's trip around the world. In April of 2014 we sold almost everything we own, put the rest in a storage container, and departed on this journey. While my husband continued his software development work to financially support our trip, I planned and documented our adventure, homeschooled our three daughters, and found volunteer work opportunities for us to do in the communities we visit. Now that we've returned to the U.S., I'm completing book about our family's adventure and our lessons learned.

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1 Comment

  1. Love it. So, so sad for the unrealized dreams of these toys. And to think at our house I continue to torture them by saving them for the next kid who will surely benefit from their gifts. This time it will be different. I am sure of it.

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