6 Developmental Benefits of Toys
If you think playtime is just for fun, think again.
From birth, your child’s playtime actually plays an essential role in helping them develop the social, linguistic, physical and cognitive skills they’ll need as they grow. The fact is, playing is one of the best ways for young minds to grow, and prepare them to interact with the world around them both as kids and as adults.
The key? Choosing the right toys, at the right time. Kids develop different skills at different stages, so toys should be appropriate for their developmental level. These toys don’t have to be expensive or high-tech by any means; rather, it’s the toys that are simple.interactive, and challenging that best help to nurture early childhood brain development. Turn off the TV, the iPad, and the educational DVDs – your child’s most valuable learning experience takes place in the playroom.
Here are 6 essential benefits your child can develop through regular playtime with educational toys:
Imaginative play encourages self-expression and the development of multi-sensory skills. While skills such as number, color and shape recognition may give a child some advantage come school time, in the long run it is often the ability to think creatively and adapt to different situations that determine a child’s ability to succeed in life. So, encourage your little one to play make-believe, dress up, act out stories with puppets and anything else that gives free rein to the imagination.
Keep the tambourine and crayons handy! Artistic toys encompass the ability for children to learn about color, proportion, perspective and to appreciate music and rhythm. Even beyond the classroom, toys involving different patterns, textures, and colors provide opportunities for brain development, self-esteem and creativity.
Exposing children to logical reasoning at an early age, helps the child develop his/her brain and create a crucial foundation for their ability to learn and make connections between pieces of information in the future. Different learning tools like puzzles and building blocks help strengthen a child’s ability to sequence, conceptualize, reason and finally problem solve.
Often considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, early experiences with toys and activities offer opportunities for kids to acquire ways of tackling problems. Toys perfect for this developmental skill include stackable toys and shape sorters that challenge your child to think outside of the box. Most importantly, early practice helps kids overcome the emotional fear of failure as they face problems down the road.
It’s never too early to build a “can-do” attitude towards math! Toys that encourage counting, simple operations and identifying shapes are good tools to start learning about math. Even though this is often the subject where kids lack confidence, here's your chance to get your child to feel he can be successful at it in a fun and pressure-free way!
Memory is also counted among the most important intellectual skills simply because it directly affects every other intellectual process. However, the good news is that memory is the easiest mental process to train, retain and practice. It also helps your child build confidence and the desire to learn new things, as the cumulative memories of his experiences help him make sense of the world around him. Playing “where did it go?” is a good way to start and then you can move on the classic Memory game once your child is older.
As your infant grows from a toddler, into a preschooler, and finally into kindergarten, know that they look to new challenges to stimulate their developing brains. Keep looking for toys and games that are appropriate for each age, or find ones that have different functions so you can revisit as your child grows. The more they play, the more they learn!
Alice Wang and Pegah Ebrahimi are the founders of Spark Box Toys, a monthly toy rental service (think Netflix for toys) for children ages 0-4 to learn through play. Spark Box curates a box of 4 educational toys, customized to a child's age and developmental level, and offers playtime ideas and tips based on a proprietary toy curriculum. After 4-8 weeks, parents send the box back for a new one, with free shipping both ways. Learn more at www.sparkboxtoys.com