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Toys make children resilient: Toy designer Suhasini Paul

By Saswati Sarkar,

In an interview with HT School, Paul sheds light on the importance of toys in a child's life. 

Paul's toy studio specialises in rubberwood and wooden toys, STEM and educational toys among others.

A 2005 post-graduate in Toy Design and Development from the National Institute of Design (NID), Suhasini Paul found her passion in toy creation at a very tender age. As a child, she used to create her own toys, the most notable among them being a hexagonal carom board. While her maternal grandmother taught her techniques like paper folding and chalk sculpting, Suhasini’s parents would always encourage her to engage in creative fun games during play time. A Tedx speaker and a visiting faculty of NID and NIFT, this eminent toy creator has been honoured for her work by Prime Mininster Mr. Narendra Modi in 2005 and the then President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Mr. Ma Ying-jeou in 2010. Currently, Suhasini and her husband Paul Sandip run their own practice, named Paul Studio, offering services to internationally acclaimed toy manufacturers and creating indigenous products.  

The range of toys that Paul Studio specialises in includes rubberwood toys, wooden toys, educational toys, eco-friendly toys, games, puzzles, flashcards, and STEM toys among others. Remote-controlled cars and monster trucks are their latest offerings. The designs and concepts of Suhasini’s products stem from an in-depth analysis of children’s preferences, their behaviour, necessities, cultural lineage and emotional development.  “I play with children a lot to observe and understand them. With those insights I come back to my drawing board to conceptualise toys,” says Suhasini. In this interview with HT School, she sheds light on the significance of toys in the life of a child and much more.   

What is the importance of toys in the life of a child?  
Toys make kids happy. But that’s not the only function that these playmates have in the life of a child. Toys play a crucial role in developing your little one’s persona and thought process of a child. There is a wide range of toys available now including educational toys, puzzles, activity kits and more. All of them boost imagination, creativity, motor skills problem-solving and decision-making abilities. In a nutshell, toys make children more self-reliant and resilient.    

How do they help in the cognitive development of kids?  
Toys encourage children to ask questions, think critically and analyze information which go a long way in the cognitive development of children. In order to play a game or use a toy, kids need to exercise thinking skills, such as imitation, establishment of cause-and-effect relationship, problem solving, etc. For example, while building something with blocks a child has to choose shapes, and arrange them in sequence. All these require critical thinking, analytical and decision-making skills.  

Do toys help in enhancing a child's life skills?  
Toys promote behavioural skills, improve learning and creative abilities, problem-solving capacity and enhance language development in children. They also boost their emotional and social well-being while helping them communicate better.  For example, games that involve role play and prop usage enhance a child’s imagination and arm him with the power of articulating his thoughts through exchange of dialogues. All these are necessary life skills that help children grow up into well-rounded adults. 

We see a lot of educational toys these days. Do they really help? 
Educational toys help in developing a child’s motor and social skills while making them efficient at problem solving. In India, we are yet to realise the potential of these products. Parents need to be made aware of the significance of educational toys.  

Why is unstructured play important in the life of kids?  
Unstructured play is a set of activities that originate from a child’s imagination without the intervention of their parents or teachers. It allows children to create their own rules of play, inspiring creative thinking, a very essential life skill. 

There are various open-ended toys like blocks, art supplies, doll’s house and collectibles that boost unstructured play. Kids can use them in various ways to suit their imagination.  

In the era of online games, do you see the popularity of physical toys dwindling?   
For infants and toddlers, physical toys are more popular than digital ones. Today’s parents are more evolved and they are well-aware of the benefits of tangible toys. So, they are spending more on these toys for their little ones. The popularity of physical toys is there and it will increase in the years to come.  

What should parents keep in mind while choosing toys for kids?  
Though parents are the best judges of their child’s abilities, interests and necessities, it can be a tricky job for them to choose the right toys for their little ones. Choose age-appropriate toys. A 7-year-old child will not benefit from a toy designed for toddlers. Also, the product should match your child’s level of learning. You can follow these guidelines while buying toys:  

  • Always buy toys from trusted brands.
  • Make sure that the toys don’t have sharp edges, uncomfortable fabric, toxic colours and loose parts.  
  • Check if they are sturdy enough to take rough treatment.  
  • Buy a toy that meets Consumer Product Safety Standards.  
  • In the case of soft toys, check if the stitch, buttons, eyes, ribbons and fur come off easily if pulled.  
  • Look for washable toys so that they are free from dust and insects. 

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