How to choose toys your child won’t leave in the box

Have you have noticed the increased in advertisements for toys on television and everywhere else? And every single toy is educational! Isn’t it a wonder that all our children are not mini Einsteins? In this article I will explain – what children learn through play, the benefits of play, different types of play and their value, how play helps the development of a person from babies into adulthood and finally, how to choose age appropriate toys that will provide hours of fun and learning. With this information you will be able to choose toys that will be fun and educational so that your children will learn while they play.

What do children learn through play? Why is play vital and why should it be encouraged? Children it is the main way that children learn, in fact for children play is work. Play helps children to communicate ideas, it allows them to develop important skills and also it excites children. Through play our children learn skills and habits that will help them develop into happy, healthy well-balanced adults. For play to be meaningful your child needs your participation. Twenty minutes a day or more is all that’s needed to increase your children’s development.

What are the benefits of play? There are many ways in which children benefit from play. It has been proven by psychologists that children who do not play fail to thrive. For play to be meaningful, children need someone to play with, choice, variety and enthusiasm. The benefits of play can be seen in five areas, they are: ü Physical – Developing co-ordination, physical fitness and health ü Social – learning about friendships, personality and emotions ü Emotional – practicing adult roles through role play ü Language – communication skills, problem solving ü Cognitive – through play children develop an understanding of concepts, group objects and explore different materials Children need a range of toys and materials to develop in all of the five areas.

Different types of play and their value Play can take many different shapes and forms however your child needs a balance of all forms in order to develop into a well-rounded adult. Play type can be divided into five main areas: imaginative play, construction, creative play, physical play and board games. Through imaginative play or pretend play children dress up and act out different aspects of daily life. Children learn to tell stories and make sense of daily life experiences.

Construction play uses a variety of toys including, duplo, bricks, and train sets and also re-cycled materials such as boxes. Construction toys help children learn about shape, colour and size, improve fine motor skills, problem solve and concentration.

Creative play covers a wide range of activities such as painting, drawing, collage (cutting, gluing and sticking), play dough and sewing. Creative play provides opportunities for children to develop manipulative skills, experiment and make choices for themselves.

Physical play covers many activities, which can be indoors or outdoors. It can involve large play equipment like bikes, climbing frames, tunnels, smaller toys like bats, balls and hoops or no equipment at all. Physical play is not only healthy but develops large and small motor skills (necessary for muscle control), self-confidence, special awareness and co-operation.

Board games and playing cards such as ludo, snap, snakes and ladders provide hours of endless fun and also provide children with an opportunity to develop language skills, turn taking, sharing and how to be a good sport.

How does play help children develop into well-balanced adults? I am sure you have met and worked with people who you find difficult to get along with? It could be they lack confidence, have poor communication skills or an inability to work as part of a team. Through play children learn to share and develop their sense of self. Play offers opportunities to develop language, physical, social, emotional, creative and intellectual development that are all vital skills necessary for a productive and happy adult life.

Choosing age appropriate, fun, educational toys Choosing age appropriate toys can be confusing, however there are a few questions you can ask yourself that will help you to choose wisely. · What is my child interested in? Watch him play and you will find out his preferences. · Is the toy safe? Does it have a kite mark? Check the toy is sturdy, has no sharp or jagged edges and for under threes avoid small parts. · Am I choosing this toy because I like it or wish I’d been given it when I was a child? Just because you like a toy doesn’t mean your child will, remember that you are at least twenty years older than your child. · Is it suitable for my child’s age and ability? Don’t buy toys that manufacturers have labelled as too young or old for your child because they may be either bored or frustrated with it. · Will it help my child develop useful skills? (Refer to the above) · Will he or she feel the toy is too girlish or boyish?

The best way to ensure a child plays with a toy is to make it fun. If you play together with the toy he will enjoy it much more and you will increase the learning potential. Playing with your child makes him or her feel loved and special.

Play is essential to a child’s develops and growth. Playing with a wide range of toys helps children learn a wide variety of skills that will prepare them for adulthood. Choosing the most appropriate toys for your child is quite simple. Think about safety, take into account her preferences, is it suitable for her age and will it develop a skill? Your enthusiastic participation will establish a special closeness that will resonate throughout both your lives.