The best educational toys may not be necessary those types that teach your child in limited areas like math or science. A toy is educational as long as it helps your child through the stages of development in some sense. For babies, it could be as simple as helping them learn how to grasp objects or recognize expressions. For older children, it could be something that encourages their creativity or logic skills. Here’s a brief guide to help you choose the right kind of educational toy for your child.
Should Educational Toys Always Be Fun?
Toys by nature are designed to be fun. Simply put, if an educational toy stops being fun, it stops being a toy. Fun play should always be encouraged, as it’s the main way in which kids pick up new skills. This is one reason why it’s important to choose toys appropriate to the age of your child. On one hand, you want to have toys that tend to challenge them. On the other, you need to avoid leaving the child frustrated and feeling like they can’t progress in a game, or can’t figure out how to use a toy. At this point, the toy stops being fun and the child simply won’t want to play with it.
The Role Of Parents
Although you need to choose toys carefully, of which they match your child’s age and current abilities, you will need to personally help your child learn how to play with them if they’re to get more benefits out from them. When you take the time to play with your child, let them choose which toy they want to play with. When they’re the one making the decision, chances are they’ll end up playing (and learning) for longer.
The Elements Of An Educational Toy
Manufacturers love to claim that their toys are educational, but you are the only real judge of that fact. Here are a few ways in which a toy can educate your child:
Sensory Stimulation: This kind of toy is especially important for young babies, who are still developing new skills. Check to see which senses the toy stimulates the five senses, whether that means visual, aural, touch and so on.
Imagination: Does the toy stimulate the imagination? Sometimes the best educational toys for imagination are the simplest ones. For example, studies have shown that simple wooden toys encourage creative thinking more than complex electronic gadgets.
Social Aspects: Is the toy good for playing with other children? Play time is an excellent opportunity for children to develop social skills with siblings or friends. Some toys are more conducive to socializing than others.
Self Expression: Does the toy help your child to express themselves? This could mean toys involving artwork, writing, taking photographs or telling stories.
Note that these aren’t the only ways in which a toy can be considered educational, but at least it is a good place to start. Always evaluate any manufacturer claims against these factors, and it’ll help you choose the best educational toys for your child.