We like to play throughout our lives. We spend a lot of time (and money!) on various toys for children, but which ones are actually useful? And why?
These items aren’t just about novelty or entertainment. They can help your child’s development tremendously. Here’s a quick overview of the sorts of toys you may be considering for your children, from post-cradle to post-adolescence!
When you’re considering toys for toddlers, you should be thinking about several areas of their development. For muscle development, get them started on a bike. There’s toys for sensory development (touch, sight, sound, etc.) such as bubble and water toys, as well as modelling compounds such as Play-Doh. There’s also make-believe and social development to consider. Dolls, costumes and toy cars help with these.
As a baby, your child used brightly-coloured toys as a means to learn about the world around them. Many of these toys will still hold relevance for your toddler for similar reasons. Understanding of cause and effect is increased when they witness gravity in action. These also help with hand-eye co-ordination. A lot of colour and visual stimulation helps with their developing vision.
It’s time to start learning about letters, numbers and language skills. You’ll want to look into toys that encourage creative and intellectual development. Puzzles will help with intellectual development. Books, both fiction and nonfiction, are absolutely invaluable. Arts and crafts items will be of great use in the creative department. Sketchpads, paper, crayons, paints, pencils; they’ll all stimulate the creative mind.
Essentially, the key is to get fun and educational toys that will supplement what they’re learning at school. If you have fun while practising education, you’re more likely to retain the skills and knowledge.
There is something you need to look out for, here. Television adverts target this age range most aggressively when it comes to toys. Morning and afternoon television will be stuffed full of adverts for superficial toys. At this age, kids can become aware of the purpose for which they are playing. Take advantage of this. Don’t buy them any old dinosaur- or princess-themed plaything. It will simply reinforce a desire for frivolous leisure.
You’ll now see the move away from traditional toys. But there are several things out there that can aid their continuing development. Don’t let their increased desire to watch television and play video games distract them away from books. Books will still be the most valuable source of brain exercising you can get. There are more grown-up toys that can help in this arena, too. A Rubik’s Cube is an old favourite and is still an excellent contraption. Trust me: someone who can work out a Rubik’s Cube will always be able to impress others! You may also want to consider getting them started on a musical instrument.
That being said, don’t dismiss the advantages of video games completely. Motor skills and hand-eye coordination can be boosted through them. The right ones will also excite the imagination in positive ways. As for films and television, try nudging them towards thought-provoking uses of these mediums. Many teenagers may stop caring about play altogether. They’ll be a lot more concerned with their general looks or image. They’ll certainly care more about their bedroom.