Newswise – Instilling a sense of empathy in children cannot be achieved through rote learning or memorization, but through interactions with people in society and activities that simulate a variety of situations such as: The “doll house», an educational toy developed by Assistant Professor Pornthep LerttevasiriArt Education Division, Department of Art, Music, and Dance Education, Faculty of Education, Chulalongkorn University.
“Instilling empathy in children is important for fostering maturity and being able to live happily with others. The best time is preschool ages 3-6 (kindergarten) when children are most receptive and remember well the things they see around them.
Dollhouse – a social simulation toy
The dollhouse is unique in that the dolls represent various forms of disabilities, including visual impairment, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, and more. The dollhouse is equipped with devices used in the daily life of people with disabilities with realistic mechanisms.
Asst. Professor Pornthep developed the dollhouse based on world-class award-winning research such as the doll body joints which have been patented for the specific invention of various locking systems which allow the doll to move at certain joints , making them realistic and interesting to play.
The Doll House set includes ready-to-use dolls with disabilities and full equipment for the disabled, including ramps and wheelchairs. The pieces have high safety standards for children as they are made of a wood substitute called MDF (Medium Density Fiber Board) plywood fiber from dust shavings, wood shavings, formed with medium density adhesive.
Children will have fun and learn as they play with the dollhouse and dolls representing various types of disabilities and aging, including visual impairment, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, amputees and the elderly. There are also various types of equipment for people with disabilities, such as walking sticks for the elderly. Each component of the dollhouse is a model that works like real objects.
“The dollhouse is an educational means to create awareness and understanding in children of coexistence, disability, human aging and empathy.”
Doll House – The pleasure that comes with coexistence
The toy set comes with a basic manual on the importance of coexistence with people with disabilities and the elderly, as well as the use of devices for people with disabilities.
“Many people don’t know how to help people with disabilities, so they don’t dare to help and are afraid of making mistakes or insulting them. For example, when we cross the road, we must not enter and lead the person to cross the street, but we must touch the back of the disabled person’s hand with the back of the hand. The disabled will hold our arm, so that we can get them to cross the street,” Asst. Professor Pornthep gives an example of the universal principle of having people with disabilities cross the road.
“On life with the elderly, the dollhouse also has adapted toy equipment, including walkers, walking sticks, beds for the elderly, salt poles and even Pampers (ready-to-use diapers). employment for disabled or elderly) This toy set has everything to do with instilling the values of life and social equality in children vis-a-vis the disabled and the elderly.
Asst. Professor Pornthep said another by-product of this toy set is the knowledge and learning experience of using the equipment for disabled and elderly people, due to the realistic design which moves almost like in real life.
Doll House for playing, not so much for teaching
Asst. Professor Pornthep stresses that parents and teachers should read and understand the basic manual, which contains methods, advice and equipment information to help people with disabilities be able to adapt the information into fun games for children.
“It’s a ‘toy’ kids need to feel like they’re having fun playing, not studying. Parents and teachers should first learn the manual and then pass the information on to children by incorporating it during play, such as what braille blocks and ramps are used for.
Parents or teachers can let their children play with the dollhouse imaginatively, but it is better for adults and children to spend time and learn together. It’s lifelong learning that comes with age-appropriate fun.
“The disabled do not need sympathy, but understanding and help in the right way. The dollhouse is fun for children while learning to help people with disabilities, use equipment, and most importantly, how to coexist with people with disabilities and the elderly.
Doll House is a fun educational toy that can include the topics you want to cultivate in children. Asst. Professor Pornthep comes up with the idea to develop the dollhouse as a story about the Thai way of life and the royal activities of the late King Rama IX to instill the concept of self-sufficiency in Thai children.
Those interested in Doll House can contact Asst. Professor Pornthep, Art Education Division, Department of Art, Music, and Dance Education, Faculty of Education, Chulalongkorn University, Tel +662-218-2565 ext 5601.