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Since quite a lot of time, there is a huge debate around whether real or pretend tools should be given to preschoolers. Using both real and pretend tools have their own pros and cons. Some experts are of the view that real tools provide a better experience in mind, while some think otherwise.
Let’s have a closer look at what experts think about the use of pretend versus real tools in preschool:
Basically, pretend tools are artificial tools which are specifically built for educational purposes. Some child development experts are of the view that pretend tools are the best ones used for a child’s development for the following reasons:
1. Child-Sized Tools
These tools are light in weight and are available in attractive colours. This ensures that the teacher can gain your child’s complete attention and make effective use of the tool for educational purposes. A child can actually lift and use the tool which enables him to understand its practical application. For e.g. A preschooler may not be able to lift a real-life hammer because it is too heavy. However, he can easily lift and use a toy hammer. And when the teacher is talking about the purpose and benefits of using a hammer, the child can actually try to use its toy version on his own.
2. Social and Emotional Skills
Because of the practical usability of the tool, the child can use the tool more often, and in an efficient manner. This leads the child to be more socially aware and knowledgeable of the things around him and their use. For example, if a child has played with a toy stethoscope at school, he is not only aware that it is used by doctors he also knows the reason for which it is used. Now, the next time the child goes to the doctor with a parent, he knows about this tool and its purpose.
3. Safe Play
Pretend tools are much safer to use for educational purposes. Obviously, when a child is playing with a toy hammer, he is less likely to hurt himself, and can enjoy playing with it without constant supervision.
It is also interesting to understand the reasons why certain experts propagate the use of real tools for educational purposes.
1. Real Life Experience
The realness of the tool provides a rich experience in understanding and using it. We all agree with the fact that real tools are closer to reality and enable a child to correlate better when he or she sees it in a real-life situation. For example, if a child has seen a real stethoscope, he is more likely to correlate with it when he or she sees a doctor using it.
2. Closer to Reality
Since these tools are closer to reality, it leads to increased awareness of the tool. Psychologists who believe in the use of real life tools are of the view that when a child learns about a tool such as a hammer using a pretend tool, he has formed a mental schema – that is the look, colour, feel, etc. of that tool on the basis of the toy. Now, when he encounters the real object, it could lead to mental confusion and it might take longer time to understand the difference.
However, there are certain major drawbacks of real tools:
1. Need Close Supervision
Needless to say, some real tools can be dangerous and could hurt the child. So while the child is playing/learning using the real tool, he needs constant one on one attention and cannot be left without supervision even for a second. This means that the preschool needs more staff, which may not be a practical solution.
2. Might Hurt and Cause Fear
Using a real-life tool such as a hammer may hurt the child and cause temporary or permanent fear about that object.
This a decision which we need to take as educationists. However, remember that the best toys and play materials are those which help children to learn effectively and evolve their personality. A blend of both may be your best bet.