As parents, we always want the best for our children. Sometimes we inadvertently want to live vicariously through them, wishing that they will become doctors, engineers, lawyers, rich and successful. However, the truth is that we cannot influence what our children will find fulfilling in life, and the best we can do is to encourage them to be creative and curious. The best way to do that would be to provide our little one with an educational toy. It has been proven that children use toys to explore the world around them, and there are a lot of educational benefits that these pieces of entertainment provide them with.
The first five years of a child’s life are the most important ones in terms of brain development. During these years the brain is most flexible and adaptable to learning and it is when more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second. Brain development continues into adulthood, however, most of it happens the first few years. For that reason, it is very important that we help our children interact with the world around them. The senses and early language skills are developed at this time, so it is obvious why babies and toddlers are fascinated by colorful toys that can move around on their own and play music or talk. Toys with a lot of colors help develop their vision, so rainbow-themed toys are amongst their favorites.
To define it simply, hand-eye coordination is using the eyes to control the hands, legs and other muscles. Hand-eye coordination has been linked to developing language, social and motor skills. First, children try to focus their eyes on a certain object, and then they try to reach out and grab it. A good educational toy for developing motor skills would, for example, be a stacking toy. Or toys where they need to fit different shapes in the adequate holes.
Spatial perception could be defined as the ability to be aware of the surroundings. An experiment showed that recognizing geometrical shapes is learned. Scientists had congenitally blind people and blindfolded adolescents recognize different geometrical shapes, such as squares, rectangles, and triangles just by touching them. The blindfolded adolescents were more successful in this task, which could mean that they were able to recognize the shapes by touch because they had previously seen them. When toddlers play with geometrical toys, such as shape sorting cubes, they improve their visual-spatial processing. Add a bit of color to the shapes and you have the perfect educational toy for your toddler!
Interest in Science
Conventional teaching methods are considered boring by most kids. They have a short attention span, so to keep them engaged, make sure you buy them interesting toys. Although educational toys may not make your kid a scientist, they are a great way to spike their curiosity and set the foundation. Eminent women in the science field might argue that the reason there aren’t a lot of women in the STEM industry is that most toys are geared towards boys. If children are exposed to some basic science concepts at an early age, they might not deem it so daunting when they are in school. From some educational toys, children can learn the basic concepts of gravity, magnetism, Math, etc.
It has been found that open-ended toys are the best at encouraging creativity. An open-ended toy is one that doesn’t have specific instructions on how to play with it, so it doesn’t restrict the child’s creativity. If children are left to play on their own with their toys, they come up with different ways to entertain themselves and they can also come up with solutions to any ‘issue’ they encounter. An open-ended toy could be a doll or an action figure. When playing with dolls, children come up with different stories. The little figurine has its own life and adventure, created by the child.
Art and craft toys can also be considered open-ended. By using play dough children can make ice cream, donuts, worms, or other things they can come up with. Even though most children won’t have a knack for art, most of them enjoy writing on the walls! So, it is a good idea to provide them with a different outlet for their painting and drawing skills. If your kid is a bit older, why not interest them in sewing and crocheting? The possibilities are endless.
What is the use of having all those fancy toys if you cannot share them with the people you love? Having someone to play with, such as a parent, a grandparent, a sibling or a friend will help your child develop some social skills early on. There are a lot of interesting toys that require multiple players. Word building board games can help with your child’s vocabulary and are a fun family activity! Cooperative games can teach your kid how to be a team player and interact with others. Let’s not forget association and memory games which can help your child improve their short-term memory.