How Toys Affect Child Development

Learning Through Toys

Choose wisely as the toys you choose can impact your child’s development.

Wait! Before you purchase the next toy for your child, consider how it affects their development. As you head down the toy aisles or search online for a toy for your infant, toddler, preschooler, kindergartener, or child, you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices available. How does one go about discovering the perfect toy that nurtures child development as well as piques their interest?

Toys allow children to learn, practice, and master new skills. Various toys develop cognitive, gross motor, fine motor, language, and social-emotional skills. Some toys focus on just one of these skills while others factor in one or more of these skill sets. Take, for instance, the category of puzzles, which promote problem solving and fine motor skills. Similarly, dress-up clothing develops cognitive and social-emotional skills. It does this by allowing them to dream up new storytelling experiences and build important life skills such as empathy.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children suggests that parents may offer their child a broad array of play possibilities with a variety of toys. In other words, create a play plan that diversifies your child’s play. You don’t want only balls, dolls, or action figures. That would be boring and wouldn’t advance your purpose of developing a well-rounded child. Instead you want to have a good mixture. So, as an example, you could mix balls, trikes, and wagons with crayons and paints. That way you get a mix of activity toys and creative toys while promoting different skill sets like gross motor skills in the former case and creative skills is the latter. Parents can play a critical role in helping their child reach out of their comfort play zone by playing an active role when their child is playing.

Colorful electronic toys featuring lights, music, and sound effects can really trick most parents into thinking their getting a great deal. But don’t be tricked by toy companies claiming their toys develop your child. Keep in mind, a vast majority of these types of toys are primarily designed for entertainment purposes. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that but it’s not going to serve our purpose of developing your child. As a general rule, more functionality typically equates to less work required for your child to interact and play with it. Recall, children learn by utilizing their cognitive and physical abilities and learning takes place through practice and repetition.

Toy safety is also another important consideration in choosing the perfect toy. Consider this factor along with how it aligns with your child’s competencies to best nurture their development. Simple everyday items you find around the house could serve as excellent play opportunities for your child. Remember, every child will grow differently, so consider the level at which your child is at when deciding what’s the best toy to play with. Playing along with your child is always a great idea for nurturing and stimulating their creativity and imagination.

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