Do you think that young children should be guided toward gender specific toys? Why or why not?To help exemplify gender schema theory, lets look at an example. Elena is a toddler enrolled in a neighborhood day care center. Elenas mother recently bought Elena a kitchen set and encourages her to play house with her younger sister, Sasha. Her mom also plays with the girls with tea sets and dolls. When the girls are confused about what to do with the tea set, she shows the girls how to create a tea party. In addition to illustrating how Elenas mom is developing a gender schema, this example also highlights Vygotskys concept of scaffolding (see Section 2.3). Elenas mom is providing structure for Elena and Sasha to try out social roles, and she offers help when they need it. When the task becomes difficult, she steps in to show them the appropriate behavior.At day care, Elena loves to build things and often likes to play with the boys. Elenas teacher is concerned that she doesnt like to play in the housekeeping area with the other girls. She often tries to redirect Elena by putting the blocks away and starting a new activity with the boys while encouraging her to play with other girls. Both Elenas mother and teacher are acting in accordance with gender schema theory. They are encouraging her to adopt behaviors that are traditionally viewed as feminine, such as playing house, and they are discouraging her from adopting behaviors that are traditionally viewed as masculine, such as building towers and fixing things. This example also illustrates the role of the childs microsystem (home) and mesosystem (school) in shaping Elenas gender role.Personally, I believe that gender stereotyping begins at birth. When a baby is born, gift are usually gender specific such as pink for a girl and blue for a boy. As a child grows, toys that are purchased for the baby are also gender specific such as trucks for boys and dolls for girls. This continues until the child begins to make choices for themselves and starts to choose what they want to play with. It is important to allow a child to decide what they want to play with; otherwise, you are just buying toys that chances are will not be played with. Just because a girl plays with a car, truck, building set, or train set does not mean they are going to turn out to be a tomboy or have some type of gender identity problems later in life. Or just because a boy plays with a kitchen set, doll, or likes the color pink does not mean that he will grow up to be feminine or homosexual. Children should play with toys they want to play with, whether it is pink, blue, building sets, or doll houses. I feel that playing with cars and trains helps to teach a child about various modes of transportation. If a child plays with building sets, it teaches them how things are created and built. If a child plays with dolls, it teaches them how to treat a baby and how to be a good parent someday. If a child plays with a kitchen set, it teaches them how meals are made. All of these things and activities help to build a childs imagination and creativity (1).(1) http://www.naeyc.org/content/what-research-says-toys-and-play
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