I have been wanting to write about SCLANS for a very long time, but haven’t really had the opportunity.
What are SCLANS?
SCLANS stands for:
with an ‘s’ to make it plural
SCLANS are the toys that teach this academic knowledge with the help of lights, buttons, and music. They are the toys that everyone clamors for their child to have when they are young, but drive peiple nuts while they are being used.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with SCLANS, but in my personal experience they don’t tend to hold a child’s interest for very long. Button pushing is a relatively easy skill, after all. Some toys have pieces that move differently, and these pieces can prove challenging until mastered, but even that doesn’t take long, and when the skill is learned the interest is gone.
We have talked about creativity being about finding your element, connecting dots, and experiencing many different areas of life in order to find an area that truly inspires you. But then we provide these toys to our infants and toddlers in the hopes that they will learn something from them.
So what do they learn? If they push a button on the toy, it does something. Basic cause and effect. They will probably learn some songs and some basic motor skills. I haven’t seen the data on whether or not children retain any shape or color knowledge from those toys. I tend to doubt it because learning these things from a toy removes the knowledge from the context of the world around them. This means that understanding becomes limited, at best. In a previous post I spoke of my lack of understanding when it comes to math. I fully believe that if those advanced math classes had been taught to me in the context of the real world, my understanding and appreciation would have been greater. And isn’t that what we are talking about when it comes to creativity – learning through life experiences?
I teach colors in my class through the children using the color and manipulating it. We talk about the colors of crayons, paint, markers, paper they are cutting, scissors they are cutting with, and toys they are building with. We talk about letters when I am writing their names or something that they have said. We learn about numbers through counting and matching amounts with numerals. The point is, we mix the learning with life. We move ourselves, we interact with objects; we don’t just sit around pushing buttons on toys. Through our interactions we have learned not only the academic knowledge, but social skills, vocabulary, fine and gross motor skills, and many different creative ways to use the information we have learned. This also promotes independence, self-confidence, and a love of learning.
Learning in ways that require more work than just pushing a button is all-inclusive and can result in enhanced skills in many areas. For this reason, I do not allow SCLANS in my classroom. My job is to focus on more than simply academic knowledge. My job is to focus on the development of the whole child, and to increase their confidence and independence in areas other than button pushing, song singing, and academic knowledge.