Perhaps like never before, parents are intensely focused on helping their child develop from a very early age the skills necessary to succeed in a today’s competitive world: intellectual prowess, strong motor skills, problem-solving, etc. Still, kids just want to have fun, leaving parents frantic to find something toys that will entertain but also educate their kids as well. Over the last few years, the children’s toy market has shifted to emphasize not only how fun their toys are but how beneficial they are to the child that plays with them as well.
When thinking about buying educational toys for your own baby or toddler, it’s important to keep in mind what child development components are emphasized in a specific toy. There are a few general areas that might help narrow your focus: physical development, intellectual development, and language development.
Physical developmental toys are often associated around hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and balance. Building blocks are a standard classic for this area of development, helping kids to carefully move and stack objects. Intellectual development might involve problem-solving, matching, counting, etc. Puzzles are especially useful for augmenting this area of learning. Language developmental toys generally come later, and often involve a combination of reading and listening to letters and words to associate a word with an object, combine words into sentences, etc. However, while toys can be beneficial in language development, almost nothing beats something as simple as reading a book to your child.
Still, when thinking about developmental toys, its important to remember that over-emphasizing toys might take away from a child’s social development. Learning to interact with other kids, to share and cooperate, to enjoy other people’s company, and more can only come with play groups and friends toys themselves won’t do much good here.
As you might expect, all toys are developmental in a way, as they help children interact with the world, but toys more and more are being crafted to help increase a child’s growth and engagement. Keeping these ideas in mind can help you find both a fun and functional toy for your child.