Keeping collections is good for children. The benefits of collecting do not come from the type of collecting done on the Internet with a credit card. That thinly veiled consumerism is not what I mean by collecting. Beneficial collecting is also not the hoarding of valuable things in hopes of reselling them later for a profit. I’m talking about old fashioned collecting in which a child slowly builds up an assortment of related treasures. These treasures are usually not valuable in themselves but hold great sentimental value to the child. Did you ever collect any of these?
- ticket stubs
- sea glass
Parents often squash a child’s natural desire to collect because they are concerned about the clutter of the collection or the impractical nature of a collection that has no value on eBay. Those parents forget that the value of a collection is not in the objects themselves but what a child learns through having a collection.
Old fashioned collections can grow quickly with a large addition of items such as when a beach vacation nets a whole bucket of new shells or a beloved uncle donates an envelope full of canceled stamps. But for the most part, beneficial collecting is a slow hobby that develops a child’s patience as he looks for new treasures. The thrill of discovery is a huge fascination of collecting and one that molds persistence through the hunt.
A collection has to be cared for and stored, and those tasks train a child to be responsible and orderly. The entertainment value of a growing collection is immeasurable because sorting and admiring a collection is a source of great pleasure for a child. One day he arranges them by color; another day he sorts them by type.
Labeling or arranging the items in a collection requires research and critical thinking. Once a collection reaches a certain size, jumbling all of the items in a shoe box is not practical. A true collection should be showcased in some way – albums, display boxes, or card files. Choosing how to arrange a collection is good for a child’s organizational skills.
Collections can actually foster healthy relationships. When your child is known for collecting a certain object, family and friends help the collection along by bringing back small gifts from their own travels. The new item in his collection then becomes a reminder of that special friend or family member who was so thoughtful towards him.
I collected both rocks and postcards as a child. Although they would no monetary value today, I still cherish what I learned from searching outdoors for colorful rocks and arranging my postcards in albums. Do your children have a passion for collecting something? What can you do to foster that passion and help them get the most benefit from the collection?