Call for help-toys

I have long been a beliver that it's not fair to tell children that they can't bring toys to school. However, I have also had difficulties in discerning how to keep it fair to all children; minimizing the conflict and being respectful to each individual child. So, I am looking for ideas on what you do in your classrooms to help in this area.

Here are some of my thoughts, in totatly random order as the pop into my head as I write this:

First, most of the children spend at the very least 50% of their waking time at the center per day. Is it fair to them that they don't have their most valuable possesion with them? We wear our jewlry, yet tell the little girls they can't wear theirs. We bring our own personal supplies because we need them for the curriculum; however they may have a need to use a toy that they may still be exploring and learning with (okay, maybe that's a far stretch, but I'm not too sure yet). We may bring a book to share with the class, or even a book to read on our lunch breaks; they don't get a lunch break. These poor children don't get any break from us at all!

Then my mind goes into, well you can bring it, but you have to share it with everyone. You can't just play with it yourself. So my mind goes into what's good for the goose mode. If we are expecting them to share their most prized possesion, then you must do the same. Ladies, go ahead and share your wedding ring with the children! Bet you aren't going to do that. So, is it fair to ask the children to share something with someone else who they don't trust or even like? But then, if they bring a really cool truck, why do they get to play with it in front of all the envious other children who have to play with our junky old plastic ones? However, again, if you make them share it, that's not fair to them; and not respectful to them either.

Next, we have share day! The one day a week they get to bring something to share with the class. However, it is locked away in a box, just waiting for it's 5 minutes of fame at circle time. I went into one classroom that had a transparent share box the children put their things into. That bright pink funky monkey was looking out at everyone just saying "please play with me!" I don't know if it's more torturous for the toy or the child.

Then you have to obvious: what do you do if it breaks! Well, what do you do if the close get dirty! That's what happens at school. "If you don't want it to get dirty or broken, don't bring or wear it to school." In the classes that I have allowed children to bring things, they come up to me and ask if they can keep it at school for the day and I always ask "Are you going to be okay if it gets broken? That might happen." If they say no, then I say no.

Another thing to consider is, at times, this is school. We provide specific activities to stimulate growth and development. Their power ranger action figure may not have a place with the farm animal review we are doing. So then do you say that you can bring something that falls along the "theme of the week"? (theme's are another topic for another day). What if their most prized possesion doesn't fall into this theme, is it fair that they don't get to bring something? Then do we give them a specific time that they can play with this toy? Say, after skill builder time when we are in free choice, you can choose to play with your toy?

So my ideas are this: You can bring a toy if you are going to be okay if it might get broken or lost. There is a specific (extended) period of time that you can use it. Other than that, it must stay in your cubby. If someone asks about it, you must explain what it is, you don't have to let them play with it. As long as you get your work done appropriatly, then you can take it out.

What do you think? What have you done?

Note: I'm not opposed to having a "share day" or a "share time" but this is a totally different area. Everyone bring in something that starts with the letter D is a homework assignment, not a special toy I can't live without.

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