The minute you walk into my daughter Gv’s room, you start to wonder if you’ve stepped through the wrong door and are back outside. That’s because you’re immediately met by piles of rocks, sticks, feathers, shells, moss, lichen and other bits of nature that she continuously collects and stores just inside her doorway.

So Many Collections

Oh, your child might not be constantly bringing the outdoors in like ours, but I’m willing to bet your little hoarder has a stockpile of Legos, stickers, Shopkins, Pokemon cards or Hatchimals stuffed away somewhere, if not on prominent display.

For me, it was Barbies, all things rainbow and anything associated with ice skating – I bet you can come up with a list of things you liked to collect, too (oooh, and those fun scratch-and-sniff stickers, remember those?)

Kids spend hours with these piles – not necessarily playing with them — but arranging and researching (dino obsession anyone?) and counting. Oh, the counting. (I know you just really need to have that daily update of exactly how many LOLs your child has before you have your coffee, right?)

The thing is, there’s more to these collections than just feeding your child’s need to amass it all. Collections actually help a child’s growing intellectual abilities by providing the chance to practice important thinking skills.

Collections Help Your Homeschooler

So, what exactly are your kids doing with all this random “junk?” Read on to find out!

  1. Learning to classify and group things – involves determining attributes of an object, which is a skill found in both math and science.
  2. Distinguishing differences –  crucial to reading development as it helps them recognize differences in text.
  3. Experiencing the chance to appreciateyou might not get what’s so wonderful about 3,287 Squishies, but your daughter does and this process is helping to foster thankfulness and other positive character traits.
  4. Enjoying the feeling of completeness – it may seem like a waste of time and money to you, but owning all the Paw Patrol dog figurines is a pretty exciting accomplishment for your kid.
  5. Organizing – and re-organizing, and re-organizing again, which will (hopefully) pay off when those skills are applied to the bedroom…
  6. Developing social skills – I’m remembering the Garbage Pail Kids craze and how kids would wind up with duplicates to give away (that’s how I got mine) or they’d spend time trading cards with friends.
  7. Interacting with others – even if your child collects something freakishly weird (um, did you see what I said about the moss?) that no one else cares about trading, I guarantee she will enjoy showing it off to anyone who will listen.
  8. Gaining personal responsibility and autonomy – your child’s collection is something that is his. He can do whatever he wants with it and not worry about being told “the right way” to go about it. (Keeping it contained, however, is another matter…)
  9. Counting and tabulating – more math! In fact, pulling out those Matchbox cars are far superior for the day’s math practice than any manipulatives found in the classroom.
  10. Fostering a hunger to read or learn more about categories of interest – this often happens with dinosaurs, when suddenly your child wants to find out everything about all the giant lizards that ever lived. Gv’s obsession is with rocks and minerals – Santa had it easy last year when he followed this interest and gave her things like a rock polisher, rock book, and giant bag of dirty rocks! G and I even had our own private little tour guide when we drove a geology auto-tour loop in Wind Cave National Park this summer!
  11. Encouraging development of financial skills – your child will quickly learn that he has to save up his cash in order to add to his collection.
  12. Enhancing reasoning skills – don’t believe me on this one? Just ask your child to explain why she organized her collection in a certain way!
  13. And, most importantly, having fun.

It’s easy to roll your eyes when you find yet one more pair of pants-pockets filled with pebbles while sorting the laundry, but before you declare your home a rock-free (or whatever “fun” item your home is being overrun by) zone, just remind yourself of all the wonderful growth your child is undergoing because of that crazy collection.

Does your child have a collection? If so, what is it? I’d love to hear! Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

Lisa Healy

Lisa Healy

Lisa Healy is a former competitive figure skater, coach, and elementary teacher. These days she spends her days speed skating after her three-year-old and blogging to tell about it at Syncopated Mama

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