Each child is like a blank sheet of paper during those first early years of development. Why not let them soak up as much as possible while their little brains are still developing? Through play, children can learn critical skills they will need later in life, such as problem-solving, cause and effect, compromising, conflict resolution, sharing, motor skills development (both fine and gross), creative exploration, and imagination.
Here’s a quick “best of” list for reference:
- Blocks: The classic wooden toy that comes in all shapes and sizes
- Active Toys: Toys that get children up and moving
- Digging/sand Toys
- Play Food
Again, toys like blocks, puzzles, and simple construction kits are all great examples of educational toys that encourage hands-on learning. Another thing to look for in an educational toy is whether or not it helps your child develop cognitive skills. These are skills like memory, concentration, and attention span.
In general, any toy that encourages your child to use their imagination, experiment, and problem-solve is going to be an excellent educational toy.
When my oldest was a baby, we used to sit on the front porch to watch the traffic go by. I would say things like, “look at that black car. See the blue truck?”. By the time he was two years old, he could identify most colors, and even more vehicle makes and models than I knew! Naturally, toy cars like Hotwheels and Matchbox were a favorite for him. However, he would incorporate other toys like building blocks to create his “roads.” It was so much fun to watch him learn and grow.
Of course, some toys are specifically designed to help children with speech and language development. These kinds of toys usually have features that make them more engaging for children, such as lights, sounds, and music. And they often have games or activities built into them that help children practice specific speech and language skills.
Some examples of these kinds of toys are:
- Talking dolls (not the creepy kind!)
- Electronic toys that speak or sing (fire engines, buses, Elmo!)
- Toy phones
- Musical Instruments (my favorite learning toy to give and play with)
How do you know if a toy is developmentally appropriate?
Look for toys that will have different uses and be fun in different ways at various developmental stages. Select toys that encourage exploration and problem-solving. Developmentally appropriate toys are those that support children as they grow and develop. This means that the toys will be fun in different ways at various developmental stages.
For example, a baby might enjoy a rattle because it is easy to grasp and shake. A toddler might enjoy a shaping puzzle because it is challenging to figure out how to fit the pieces together. And an older child might enjoy playing catch with a ball because it requires coordination and dexterity.
If your child demonstrates an aptitude for certain things, such as throwing or catching, you may be able to teach them sooner. For instance, when my youngest was only a year old, I started playing catch by rolling the ball back and forth between us while we sat on the floor, facing each other.
Not only do developmentally appropriate toys provide entertainment, but they also encourage exploration and problem-solving. In addition, as children play with these toys, they develop essential cognitive and motor skills.
So, when selecting toys for your child, look for those with different uses that are enjoyable at various stages of development. Choose items that encourage exploration and problem-solving and that support your child as they grow and learn.
What is considered an educational toy?
In conclusion, educational toys are a great way to promote fun and learning. Remember, when shopping for toys, look for those that encourage exploration and problem-solving, as well as support your child’s unique developmental needs at each stage of growth.