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The Work of Designing Play

CRN has been researching the learning and playing of children for over the ten years now.

Children are said to be geniuses at play. Toys have an important role in play. Toys can greatly increase the fun of playing and promote children's growth and development. This happens when good toys are chosen and children play with them as they were meant to be played with as well as come up with new creative ways of playing. Children learn a lot through playing. And creating these wonderful occasions for learning through toys is the work of professional "toy consultants."

Wishing to know more about this wonderful work, I took a training course for toy consultants. I completed it successfully and have now become a toy consultant.

The course, which aims to train professionals in playing with toys, is given by Japan Good Toy Association, a non-profit organization. Students have the option of attending classes or taking it as a correspondence course.

I chose to attend classes, which were held once a week for two hours. The course consisted of 13 classes and with forty hours of practical training, and it takes about 10 months to acquire certification.

The classes were taught by Chihiro Tada, Director, Tokyo Toy Museum, a leading expert on toys, as well as by toy inventors, manufacturers, wholesalers, toy shops, and experienced toy consultants.

The course was based on the concept that toys are not simply playthings, but have a life of their own. Starting out as an idea, they are nurtured and developed into a work that is born into the world where it reaches the hands of people and warms their hearts. This process was the key theme that informed the entire course.

Toy Consultant Work

There are currently approximately 3600 toy consultants in Japan. Their consulting activities are diverse, ranging from making toys to selling them and dealing with the consumer. They are also involved in social welfare work at children's hospital wards and facilities for senior citizens and consulting on good toys from the consumer's perspective.

Dr. Noboru Kobayashi, Director, CRN, continually stresses the importance of children experiencing joie de vivre. And one thing is certain: toys are a means of bringing children joy and making their eyes sparkle.

As a toy consultant, I hope to apply by what I have learned to support other toy consultants and enrich the activities of CRN. The East Asia Child Science Conference hosted by CRN in China last year featured a well-received exhibition called "The Japan Good Toy Exhibition." We hope to continue such activities in the future in a steady and sure attempt to ensure that all children around the world can lead lives full of joy.
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