A well-chosen educational toy can promote vital developmental skills for your toddler in areas such as: creative thinking, language and literacy, early maths, problem solving and social-emotional growth.
One of the most rewarding parts of parenthood is watching your child grow and learn, and play is an interesting part of the journey.
In addition, several studies have shown that hands-on interactive educational toys in particular can stimulate cognitive skills that contribute to academic success.
But, with so many choices available, you might ask, "What types of toys are best for my child's development... but are still interesting enough to become real favorites?"
The good news is that you don't need to be an expert to find answers to this question. Here are some simple tips to consider when choosing toys for your child:
Choose an educational toy that matches your child's interests and abilities.
Before a toy can contribute to your child's development, your child must be interested in it.
If your child is sensitive to the threat to the planet, look for games and toys that focus on games and toys that focus on sustainability concepts.
Or if your preschooler likes to build, consider incorporating a set of alphabet blocks to encourage letter and sound recognition.
Also consider the age of your child when choosing the educational toy.
An educational toy should be stimulating enough to be fun, but not so frustrating that your child stops playing with it.
Look for toys that are open and can be used in a variety of ways.
Open-ended toys such as blocks, builders, construction bricks and arts and crafts materials are often a great buy as they can be used again and again in different ways.
In a very real sense, these toys can grow with your child. Another great advantage of open toys is that many of them encourage STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) learning in a fun and non-intimidating way.
Children can use them to invent and build their own creations, while experiencing the design process first hand!
Choose educational toys that stimulate the imagination and provide opportunities for pretending.
Simulation play is an excellent way to develop creativity while promoting language and literacy skills.
When children play pretend, they learn new vocabulary by playing different characters and acting out new situations.
Play kitchen sets and pretend that the food quickly becomes a house or a restaurant. A cash register to play with and play money can provide hours of fun and simulation.
Blocks and play animals, cars or other figures can encourage your child to build a zoo or a miniature city.
Choose toys that promote social skills and collaborative play.
Educational toys that encourage cooperation are essential for the development of social skills at a young age. Board games are obvious choices, but experiment kits, puzzles and builders are also excellent. All of these educational toys show children how to take turns, how to share and how to compromise. For older children, these types of toys provide opportunities to learn to work together and solve problems in groups.
Look for educational toys that encourage exploration of the real world.
Educational toys that invite children to explore the world around them can spark natural curiosity and stimulate a desire to learn.
A set of binoculars or an insect catcher kit will provide hours of discovery while encouraging children to ask many different questions: "How? "and "Why?" and you can continue together by reading books that answer these questions.
Experimental kits and science toys are also excellent choices. Who knows? You might end up inspiring a budding scientist or STEM enthusiast.
Find an age-appropriate educational board toy that involves maths and language skills.
Multiple studies indicate that board games can improve mathematical skills. For young children, playing with an educational board game is an ideal opportunity to develop numeracy skills as they move around a game board.
Through playing, they also learn to strategise, which helps to develop their mathematical and cognitive skills. There are also a number of different board games that encourage reading skills.