Play is essential for children’s learning. Toys are instruments for the game. The materials of the game and how they are used, are equally important. Adults who care for children should be reminded that toys facilitate but do not replace the most important aspect, which is a warm, loving relationship that inspires confidence.
Safe toys are good toys
As a three-time mother, I learned that toys should be safe, accessible and appropriate to the child’s developmental stage. Children do not need expensive toys. Toys should be attractive and interesting for a period of time. Children learn from birth and the parents or guardians are primarily responsible for providing quality experiences to learn from.
Parents should take part in the game
The growth and development of children is supported and enhanced with the game. The toys serve to unite parents with children through the play time. The early brain development benefits from these relationships. Play is important in all areas of development including cognitive, language, social, physical, and emotional areas.
Some toys can be emotionally and socially dangerous – charts with violent scenes presented interactively as those found in some computer games or videos could lead to violent behavior in children. Even those games with a rating of ‘E’ – ‘everyone’ (for all) can contain significant scenes of violence. Imitations of weapons or promoting violence should be discouraged. Luckily, I have three daughters and they never got interested in weapons, but I had to be extra careful in choosing the games they could play.
Puzzles allow children to test their logic and exercise their concentration. From 18 to 24 months, puzzles must not contain more than 24 parts, otherwise, they might frustrate the child, who would be discouraged by being unable to go all the way alone. Still, anything less than 24 pieces might be boring and end with the same result. I made this mistake with my oldest daughter, but fortunately, she got right back into playing with puzzles when I bought some new ones for her sisters.
Books with interactive elements such as those that are heavily textured or with parts that can be raised are a great stimulus for the development of sight and touch in your children. If a child reads a story with which it can be connected and not just a passive listener, this will bring multiple benefits and pleasures.
Blocks and cubes
By helping my girls build a tower of cubes and allowing them to then destroy it, they learned to notice the connection between cause and effect. This is the moment when children realize that they have the power to change things. In addition, playing with blocks improves fine motor skills.
Dolls and teddy bears
When playing with dolls, kids learns how to be gentle and friendly toward other beings. Therefore, show the child how to caress a doll and a child will imitate this gesture.
Rocking horses, ladybugs and other ‘animals’ for riding are great for exercise and muscle strengthening. In addition, these toys improve balance and motor skills.
Toys with forms
Toys, where the child has to find the right opening for a certain form, are excellent brain teasers because the child has to think and solve problems.
Household items as perfect toys
Old phones, keys and remote controls are popular among kids. The more buttons there are – the better. Household items can develop imagination and teach kids colors, numbers and words. While playing with tea sets or other dishes, I believe that my daughters enriched their imagination by roleplaying and inventing situations in which they cooked and served food. Moreover, kids love to roll on the floor. When I first noticed this, I got a beautiful kids floor rug and allowed my girls to lie on their stomachs – lifting the chest off the ground strengthened their back, neck, abdominal and arm muscles and with colorful pictures of a world map, numbers or letters, they also learned something new.
Collecting things is always a fun experience for children; and I, as a parent, try to promote this. Ever since my girls got interested in collecting doll figurines, they have become more organized and neat. They obtained a sense of responsibility towards their collection and they do not want me taking care of their stuff anymore.
The game will promote children’s psychosocial and physical development. Through the game and toys the children improve motor development, since they move, run, jump, walk, etc. They also develop their intelligence, because the game pushes them to explore the world around them and interact with available objects in order to get to know them better.
About the author:
Tracey Clayton is a full-time mom of three girls. She loves cooking, baking, sewing, spending quality time with her daughters and she’s passionate about writing. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”