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Toys are tools for the young. When chosen according to a child’s needs, wants, or interests they can inspire curiosity and creativity as well as foster motor development, problem solving, and thinking skills.
Here are a few tips to guide you as you choose toys that teach your child:
Which Toys for What Age?
According to NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), each child grows at a different pace, and knowing how your child plays or uses materials will help you choose the most appropriate toys for him/her.
Research has demonstrated that there are some features of toys that are preferred by children, depending on their age/current stage of development. These are appealing, interesting, and appropriate for their physical capacities.
The following are toys preferred by specific age groups:
(Sources: Early Years are Learning Years Toys: Tools for Learning and The Right Stuff for Children Birth to 8).
Choose Child-Powered Before Battery-Powered
Child-powered toys are those driven by a child’s own creativity, imagination, or logic. They are more “open-ended,” allowing your child to take lead of the play, exploring and mastering the skills at his/her own pace. Many times child-powered toys also allow others (parents, family, friends) to join in the fun and take part in the learning experience. Finally, child-powered toys are usually a better value for parents because they rarely have an age limit. Blocks, dramatic play accessories, art supplies, and pattern blocks are all great examples of timeless treasures – that do not need batteries.
(Source: Toy Action Guide http://truceteachers.org)
According to U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), “While most toys on store shelves are safe, we continue to find toys that pose a range of safety hazards to small children. As a result, parents and other child-care providers need to remain vigilant in order to prevent toy-related deaths and injuries.” The group’s pamphlet, “Tips for Toy Safety” can provide families with more information on basic toy safety information. For specific information on toy recalls, check out the Illinois Attorney General’s “Play It Safe: Product Recall Guide.”
What Are Some of Your Child’s Favorite Toys that Teach?
Does your child have a favorite “timeless treasure,” an open-ended toy that he/she has or continues to learn by using? I would love to hear your stories! Share them here or on our social media sites!