For children, in the early stages of child development, play is life, and toys form an essential part of early learning. Toy shops are filled with countless options to choose from. Let us see what is wrong with today's trend in toys. I will also share some tips on what qualities or characteristics to look for while buying the next toy for your child. Here is your ultimate guide for choosing right kind of age & developmentally appropriate toys for children that will help your child blossom with creativity & intelligence.
Children are constantly exploring their world. And play is something that is their right & necessity. We parents often tend to buy lots of toys from the market assuming they will keep our kids engaged for long but does this happen actually? Major percentage of the toys are used just couple of times & then the child never ever looks at them unless some other child is trying to play with that toy. What could be the reason? Aren't the toys engaging enough? Aren't they attractive enough? What is the root cause of this behavior?
What Could Be Wrong In A Toy?
- Passive - Something like a "press and make noise" or "press & lights flashing" kind of toy are passive. There is not much a child can do with such toy. Surely he will be excited when he gets hold of it initially but after few days, he will not be interested in listening to that same noise again & again.
- Flashy Lights Or Colors - This is over stimulating & overwhelming for the child. In long run, it is not advisable to play in an over stimulating environment. It can lead to fussy, hyperactive or clingy kids in future.
- Gender-Biased Toys - Kitchen sets & dolls can be enjoyed by boys & cars can be enjoyed by girls equally. Adults try to enforce gender on toys, not kids. Give your child freedom & opportunity to play with all kinds of toys.
- Non-Imaginative - A toy may not be giving enough opportunity to be imaginative to a child. It might be too straightforward perhaps that it does not interest the child. Pretend play sets are great for imaginative plays.
- Too Much Detailing - You have a building blocks set in the market of various kinds like train building blocks, house building blocks, amusement park building blocks. Too much detailing in a toy restricts the child to use his own imagination. Let the blocks be plain simple generic blocks & let the child come up with his interpretations on his own.
- Not Open-Ended - Open ended toys captivate the young audience for longer for the simple reason that kids can put in & give shape & form to their never ending imagination using such toys.
- Not Helping In Development - Toys should be helping a child in some sense, be it motor skills or emotional intelligence or anything else.
- Non-Immersive - Is your child immersed during his play with a specific toy or is he too distracted while he plays? That can give you an idea if this toy is going to last for long or not.
- Non-Natural Materials - Toys made of natural materials like wood, wool, cloth etc are better for kids as well as environment. They provide a rich sensory experience to children and of course they are long-lasting.
- Exposure To Screens/Gadgets - We can certainly avoid the various so-called educational apps that claim to teach colors, shapes and the likes to toddlers. Exposing kids below 2 years to screen is dangerous and can get highly addictive. There is enough research about the ill-effects of screens & gadgets.
- Battery Operated - In most cases, battery operated toys are passive, they entertain the child and the child just sits and watches or listens. The focus should be what a child can do with a toy, not what the toy can do for the child.
- Too Many Toys - Steiner Waldorf educationalists have long recognized the positive effects of taking away excess toys from children and replacing them with simpler, more natural playthings to stimulate creative play.
How To Choose Right Toys For Your Child
So next time you buy a toy for your child, do a quick check with this checklist. Whether the toy -
- stimulates the child's senses correctly
- is made of natural material
- is open-ended / imaginative / interactive
- meets any kind of learning objective in an age appropriate manner
- enhances motor skills and/or emotional intelligence
- is non-toxic & safe as per the age of the child
At the end, I would like to say that "less is more" for a child. Even if you have tons of toys at home, keep out just a few of them outside so that there is less to choose from for your child.
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