Toy-free approach

First things first: This approach is not about children not being allowed to use toys in the kindergarten. On the contrary, they should even play/craft, but not primarily with industrial toys, but with objects such as pillows, blankets, cloths or natural materials.

Idea: Addiction prevention

The toy-free approach originated in Germany in the 1990s. The basic idea is to teach children more life skills. The basis for the concept are observations in the therapy of alcoholics, which show that well-developed life skills are a prevention against addiction. Life skills are understood as psychosocial abilities that enable children to cope productively with difficulties in life and to deal with other people in an adequate manner.

Goal: More life skills

By not using commercial toys, the creativity of the children should be encouraged. The children should already play, but they should develop their own ideas for play with the materials available. This should strengthen creativity, self-determination, problem-solving skills and the ability to relate to others.

The point is that children do not learn to compensate for negative experiences and emotions by buying or using toys, but to find a way to deal with them. Other goals of the toy-free approach are: To become aware of their own needs and feelings and learn to deal with them, to build frustration tolerance and to promote social relationships and communication skills. In the toy-free approach, the educators function primarily as companions and observers of the children.

Planning is half the battle

When implementing a toy-free play idea in a day-care centre, the planning phase is especially crucial. Children need to be prepared for the removal of toys and it needs to be explained to them what exactly is happening around them. Role plays, story or conversations are suitable for this. Subsequently, the classic toys are put away for a certain period of time (3 to 6 months). The teachers do not give instructions for possible games but give the children the opportunity to simply "discover". However, it is crucial for the success of the project to effectively involve the parents, especially in the beginning, so that they accompany the process.

Offers with the toy-free approach near you