In some schools in Germany there is always available for children toys. And not by an economic issue. The toy-free are kindergarten, day-care centers and kindergartens for children aged between three and six years in which removed toys for several consecutive weeks to make own children decide what to play. The ultimate educational goal? Improve children’s psychosocial skills in order to reduce the risk that addictive behaviors in the future.
Some German nursery schools completely removed toys for weeks to promote the personal and social skills of children
According to the theory, when the children do not have toys at their disposal have one greater opportunity to develop their own games and their psychosocial competencies: children learn how to deal with frustration and boredom, play more and better together, practice empathy, are more creative and better solve problems that arise in everyday life. All this has a direct impact on healthy personal development and self-esteem increased, which translates into a lower probability of falling into addictions such as drugs.
The mechanism is simple: removed toys for three months after a previous and clear explanation of the teachers of what is going to happen next. Afterwards, and once it begins the period free of toys, only teachers can observe the game but never directed what should play.
Free toys, are free from addictions?
This initiative comes from the Decade of the eighties of the twentieth century, when in the Weilheim-Schongau district (one of the 71 which form the German State of Bavaria) is carried out an extensive investigation into drug addiction. It is through it that researchers found after working with adults with addiction problems that, in most cases, the source of the problem was in his early years. As a result of this, already in the nineties, it was born from the hand of the Association against drug addiction Aktion Jugendschutz, ‘Free of toys’ project; which rapidly spread throughout Germany and also to other neighboring countries such as Switzerland and Austria. Today there are hundreds schools which have implemented it with normality.
This project, which has completed more than thirty years is not without controversy. At the end of the 1990s, several psychologists publicly criticized the initiative of children’s schools free of toys for lack of scientific evidence. Some specialists, even expressed the view that it could be detrimental long term by subjecting children to unnecessary stress levels.
As a result of that attack, some children’s toys-free schools decided to Commission independent studies that check if such initiatives were really so harmful for the children in the long run. Such research, observational type, concluded that children who had enjoyed free toys periods showed an increase in social interaction, creativity, empathy and communication skills. The debate remains open, and in children’s toys-free schools continue with a project much less, curious.