One of the joys of childhood is collecting things. Maybe you remember having a collection or two when you were young. A rock collection may have started with one or two pretty pieces of stone, or a shell collection may have begun with the annual family trip to the beach. You may have liked dogs or cats and collected pictures and books.
As a parent, you may not understand why children collect the things they do, but one thing is certain: Children learn about the world around them through these collections. At first that shell or stone is just another pretty item, but from there, the child will want to know what that pink stone is, or what kind of animal lived in the tiny shell.
The urge to collect usually begins around age six or seven. While you might not understand the reasons why your child chooses to collect a particular item, the important thing is to let them do it. At this stage, your child hasn?t grasped the concept of a true collectible having greater value in the future.
How many times have you said to yourself ?I wish I still had those model airplanes Mom threw out. They?d be worth a lot today?? Your child is going to want to play with his or her collection and won?t be interested in keeping items in pristine condition.
Many collectors have learned to buy two of each item, one for display or play and the other remaining in the original packaging for later. Of course, this can get expensive because you have no way of knowing if the object will increase in value later down the road or if your child will have a long-term interest in collecting it.
Whether your child collects rocks or Barbie dolls, collecting has some very important developmental bonuses. Call these the hidden value of collectibles:
The greatest benefit your child gets from collecting is knowledge of the world around them. One piece of knowledge leads to another, which in turn might lead to a life-long career. That seemingly insignificant stone or shell could provide the springboard for the next great archaeologist or marine biologist.
Socializing with other children may not come easy to some kids. Collections give your child a chance to connect with other children who have the same interests. It can serve as a way to open up venues of communication and help your child to form lasting friendships.
Maybe you have one of your collections from your childhood you?ve been able to share with your child. When you pass these collections on to the next generation, you?re not just sharing an object, you?re sharing memories. You saved each piece in your collection for a reason. Often, the sentimental value far outweighs the monetary value of the object.
Expanding the Imagination
Your child will spend hours arranging his or her collection, but this is more than the simple act of organizing. To your child, this is playing. They might have a collection of Barbie dolls and while your little girl changes Barbie?s clothes and hair, she starts to learn about fashion or imagines herself doing all the things Barbie does.
For a child, collections aren?t meant to sit on the shelf gathering dust. Their collections are meant to be functional. After all, what good is a toy if you can?t play with it? There is nothing wrong with having a few items meant to sit on the shelf, but for the most part, let your child decide what they see as valuable and let them play. Who knows where it will lead?