Toys are an essential part of every child’s journey and the toys we choose for our children can shape and influence their development. Children learn by playing, and while most toys stimulate the brain, educational toys focus on nurturing specific life-long essential skills like creativity, innovative thinking, problem solving, cognitive skills, fine motor skills, emotional development, language, communication and social skills. A good educational toy delights both children and parents: children see it as an engaging toy and parents see it as a learning tool that subtly helps their children develop. Smart toys are both fun and appealing with the educational value cleverly disguised, as they help children to seamlessly learn while having fun.
The Internet and television are overwhelmingly full of advertisements showing how toys will help our children learn. How do you know which toy is best for your unique child, that it will capture their attention, engage them, promote their skills and is worth the money? Here are 5 helpful tips to consider when choosing an educational toy for your child:
1. Match toys to your child’s interest and age
Regardless of reviews and recommendations, individualise your toy choice to meet the needs and interests of your unique child. Whether it is dinosaurs, space, princesses or cars, thinking about your child’s interest is important to ensure that an educational toys will capture their attention and keep it while they actually have fun playing and learning. Time spent joining your child at playtime can inform you of your child’s interests and abilities and support choosing the perfect toys to support their growth and development.
If a child doesn’t relate to a toy, they more likely to find it boring. If your child is into dinosaurs, why not explore toys with prehistoric themes? If they are into construction, a variety of building block sets can appeal to them. Space exploration toys from stars to projection torches are both fun and have educational for children interested in space. Tech savvy children will enjoy STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) toys and coding robots. If your budding artist likes making creative masterpieces, then arts and crafts toys will surely engage them.
Regardless of your child intertests, keep in mind your child’s age and ability when choosing the right toy for them. A toy should be challenging enough to support developing skills while having fun, but not too difficult to frustrate your child. Children cannot be forced to learn when they are not developmentally ready, and hence it is important to select educational toys appropriate to their abilities.
2. Seek versatile toys with multiple use
Certain toys can be used differently each time when played with, especially toys that encourage creativity. Not only do toys with multiple use offer good value for money but they grow with your child and inspire creativity and innovation. Open-ended toys like construction and building bricks help develop fine motor skills and spatial awareness while nurturing problem solving and design skills. Stacking toys are another great example for toddlers, when they explore multiples of arrangements and learn about cause and effect. Art materials can be used in a variety of ways for children to make their own creations and develop self-confidence. Board and card games can have endless outcomes while your child develops valuable social skills and strategic thinking. The best toys are simple and open-ended.
3. Spark that imagination!
Smart toys foster imagination through pretend play and role playing. From play food and shopping to building tools and dolls and puppets, imaginative play toys encourage the development of real-life skills and well as language and communication skills. Children develop their vocabulary as they act out new characters in make-believe scenarios. For example, a toy cash register can provide imaginative opportunities that promote descriptive language related to buying and selling, social and emotional skills, and mathematical skills counting play money.
4. Look for toys that open the doors to the world!
Smart toys foster children’s curiosity and their natural desire to explore and discover the world. Pick toys that help children answer questions such as “why” and “how”. A great example is science discovery toys such as binoculars, bugnoculars, microscopes and magnifying lenses. Science kits offer hours of exciting time uncovering causes and effects while developing and testing theories. Children can immerse themselves in play with the right educational toys while seamlessly learn about the human body, nature and animals, earth and space, forces and magnets, light & sound, electricity, materials and more. Smart toys support developing life-long observational skills, cognitive skills, scientific investigation and logical thinking.
5. Not just toys!
While many gifts for children tend to be toys, books are one of the best educational assets that a child can own. Reading is an excellent exercise for the brain, improves concentration and retainment, and promotes language and communication skills as well as imagination and empathy. Books complement educational toys and help children learn about people, events, places and the world around them. Children who read more show improved cognitive abilities and academic achievement. Books also provide opportunities to spend valuable time reading together with your child, whether on the sofa or reading bedtime stories.
Give the gift of reading to your child by choosing the best books that capture their interests and make reading fun and relevant. From picture books and stories to non-fiction books such as science, maths, languages, geography and history and activity books, explore a wide range of children’s books to find the perfect book gift for your child.
We hope these tips will help you choose the perfect gift for your child and spend valuable family time with them.