Roll with it…

(Today’s Author is Charlotte from MWM South Hams)

We’ve been really enjoying the Transport theme in our sessions this term.

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Me at my class at Stoke Fleming Village Hall

My children are both obsessed with trains, buses, tractors, bikes and anything that rolls. We regularly take trips on the steam train, which I’m fairly certain my children think is the normal train and that the modern ones are the novelty. A real treat for my son is a trip into Brixham on the bus, especially if it’s the “bus with no roof”. They love going on the car ferry and they can now pick out a tractor with a trailer going down our road just by sound. They also stand at the window every Thursday eagerly waiting for the bin lorry to arrive. I was in a very quiet Boots in Torquay last week and my nearly 2 year old bellowed at the top of her tiny lungs “THERE’S THE LAND TRAIN!!” when it went past outside. I nearly dived under the checkout and I’m pretty sure I saw the security guy about to dive from his platform and arm himself with eyeliners to fearlessly combat a potential threat.

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Anyway, it got me wondering why children love all those things. My oldest used to overturn the pushchair and spend ages just spinning the wheels around. For a couple of years, we have spent hours building all kinds of intricate wooden train tracks, only for his little sister to demolish them with a couple of steps through the living room.

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Thomas the Tank Engine is proof of the enduring appeal of trains and the characters we find in vehicles and if we let him my son would watch endless videos on YouTube of people driving around remote control tractors and lorries. Diggers, tractors, trailers and cars are the favourite toys in our house.

So I did a bit of research, it seems that children (especially boys) and monkeys (especially boy monkeys) have a need to play with toys that roll from a very early age. Experiments have shown this is even linked to levels of testosterone, the more testosterone, the greater the desire to play with toys that roll like cars or balls. Apparently, and much to my disappointment, girls and girl monkeys naturally prefer teddies and dolls. My daughter has access to an equal amount of both and she loves all the vehicles but she definitely loves the teddies and dolls more than my son does too.

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This desire has a lot to do with developing spatial awareness, which in monkeys is important for survival through hunting and escaping threats. For modern humans it is thought that improved spatial reasoning may improve a child’s ability to develop an understanding in subjects like maths and science. Of course, an interest in and understanding of how things work can only be a good thing and could provide all kinds of opportunities for our children. Enabling and encouraging play with these toys could help our children later on in their lives.

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We embrace the obsession at home. We can see the steam train from our back garden and the children love to wave as it goes by and love to go on it too. I know I’ll miss the endless requests to build a train track when they’ve moved on to something else, although I really have to try hard to summon the enthusiasm at 6:09am, and they’re still learning to share the trains and not just wallop each other when they want the same one. The interest in wheels continues and my youngest is really enjoying all the songs we’re learning this term.

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We’ll make the most of our next few weeks of Transport and it is something for those of you with Jolly Babies to look forward to in a year or two!

Charlotte x x x

(If you want to see more research I found, click here)

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