Mail-Order Activity Kits Aren’t A Substitute For Involved Parenting

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BabbaCo, a children’s products manufacturer started by mom, Jessica Kim, is expanding their portfolio. The company, which originally produced car seat covers, play mats and burp clothes, has created a new parenting tool called the BabbaBox. Kim says that she wanted to create something fun and educational for parents to do with their kids instead of watching TV. TechCrunch reports that BabbaCo recently received a $1.2 million investment to help with its expansion.

So what exactly is a BabbaBox? It’s a mail-order program that sends an activity kit for children and their parents once a month. TechCrunch compares the program to Foodzie, but I think they’re both borrowing the “Beer Of The Month Club” model. The product sounds interesting, and coming from a mother who knows her way around a start-up, I’m sure that will be successful. However, I’m kind of sad about the need for such a product. Here’s an example of a typical Babbabox.

“Each BabbaBox focuses on creating, learning and story telling. For example, one month’s activity could be learning about insects. The BabbaBox would include clay and instructions to sculp an ant, along with an instructional video or story to teach kids the different parts of an ant. The box would also come with an insect catcher and a magnifying glass for kids to actually find real insects.”

That sounds like an awesome activity for children! If its an activity they are interested in or if they start asking about ants or if clay is the way that they want to create an ant. These activities model the type of play that we should be encouraging and participating in, but they spoon feed it, as opposed to letting it happen naturally. Thanks to a mother in early childhood education, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about and reading from the Reggio-Emilia philosophy of learning. This approach lets children explore the world around them and then parents and educators create lessons out of a child’s interest. It supports interaction between kids and necessitates a multitude of ways for kids to discover and play. It truly caters to a child’s indivdual interests while still allowing them to interact with their peers. Obviously, I’m a huge proponent of the approach.

This BabbaBox sounds like a Reggio project. Except it determines all these activities without any regard for the child’s actual interests. Of course we should support our children as they explore and learn. Yes, we should provide them with new tools to discover the world around them. But I don’t think that we need an activity kit mailed to the house to do so.

The BabbaBox sounds like one more way for parents to trust their children’s education to someone else. Instead of creating activities for you and your children, it can all be bought for $29.99 a month. Then, the parent can hand a kit over and know that their child is engaged in something educational. I guess the BabbaBox is better than sitting in front of a television, but its not a substitute for involved parenting. Nothing is, no matter how much you pay for it.

(Photo: Thinkstock)