Choosing the right toy can be challenging for any parent. By understanding how toys support development, parents can select toys that help their child learn or enhance skills. Here is a list of toys that are divided by the four areas of development.
Aside from being fun, toys support your child’s language development. Your child develops vocabulary as you two talk about what he/she is playing with. Even pre-reading skills are enhanced by your child identifying letters and numbers that appear on toys.
Problem solving is inherent in toys. How can your child get the toy to work? Toys enhance your child’s persistence, attention span, memory and ability to focus – skills that are important for kindergarten readiness. Be aware of your child’s level of development, understanding, and capabilities when selecting toys. Toys should be intellectually challenging, but not too difficult.
What’s not so obvious about toys is that they foster your child’s social and emotional development. Whether playing with you or with a peer, toys provide lessons in sharing and cooperation. They can help boost your child’s self-esteem by being able to do something that he/she couldn’t do before. Toys also allow your child to experiment with roles and situations through pretend play.
In the area of motor development, toys provide opportunities to build your child’s small and large muscles. Toys that encourage throwing, kicking or jumping are great for developing gross motor skills, while smaller toys develop fine motor skills. Playing with the same toys over and over again helps your child to refine his/her movements over time.
Some toys, like blocks, stimulate learning in all areas of development. However, toys can never replace you. You promote your child’s exploration of the world around him.