Anyone would be forgiven for viewing toys as special gifts that offer a temporary distraction for children, or objects that entertain little ones while we busy ourselves with grown-up duties. But toys open up a world of learning opportunities for kids.
Here are 6 tips to help you stock the essential toy box for your little one:
Toys that encourage children to imitate real life
Playsets with miniature figures, kitchen toys, tea sets, medical kit and pretend telephones all help children learn about the world around them by bringing it to their level. Having an interesting selection of dress-up clothes is essential for the same reason.
Toys that inspire problem solving
Toys like shape sorters, stacking toys and puzzles help children develop the concentration and problem-solving skills they’ll need when they go to school and throughout their adult lives.
Toys that invite creativity
Children love to use paints, crayons and paper. Play dough is great for exercising children’s imaginations and helping their manual dexterity, and you can even make it yourself. Building blocks are essential, too—children love to play with blocks, and they encourage creativity as well as logical thinking.
Playing with balls of all sizes helps children improve their coordination. Ball games are also great for social interaction, helping children to learn about winning and losing and how to take turns.
Children love to sing along with, dance to, and control the music, and so a durable, child-appropriate CD player and a variety of children’s music are highly recommended. Songs with actions are particularly important as they improve coordination, stimulate the memory and are social, too.
Children should have access to as many books as possible. Even if they just pretend to read, they are still exercising their imaginations and their pre-reading skills. Like toys, books should always be kept in good condition so children learn to respect them.
A good toy:
- Is safe and durable
- Is fun to use
- Is interesting to the child
- Stimulates creativity and imagination
- Encourages inquisitiveness and resourcefulness
- Is a tool for learning
- Is challenging, yet not frustrating
- Invites repeated use
- Involves child interaction
- Addresses developing needs and emerging skills
Written by Kathleen Alfano Ph.D. and Former Head of Child Research on behalf of Fisher-Price.
Note: Parenting advice is given as a suggestion only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.