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A Parents Guide to Educational Toys
Parents, and especially first time parents, will do almost anything to find out what is best for their child. In toy shops and online toy stores over the last year, Americans spent nearly billion on educational toys that promised to stimulate and entertain the young brains of their offspring.
Many experts agree that exposing even very young children to the shapes and sounds of letters and numbers is hugely beneficial. But many of these same educators believe that educational toys and games which concentrate on cramming facts into young children’s heads when they would rather be playing, have no benefit, and could actually harm your child’s thirst for knowledge. Taking the play out of playtime can substantially reduce a child’s creative urges.
But we are all different. Every child learns, remembers and retains information in a different way, and how it differs will depend upon many things, including their experiences and their own personal learning style.
The best educational toys are those which will help the child to the next developmental hurdle, or help them to improve some of their basic skills. But don’t fall into the trap of buying a very expensive toy which is way over and above the skill level, and probably age level, required to play it. Instead of having the ability to inspire and help the child to attain the next level, it will simply frustrate them.
If you can match the child’s learning style with an educational toy from a quality online toy shop or toy store, then you will be providing that child with something very special and enduring. The gift of an inspiring toy which will entertain and educate at the same time is sure to be treasured.
Dr. Howard Gardner, a Harvard Professor, published a book entitled, “Frames of Mind” in 1983. The book received critical acclaim and outlines seven different ways people learn. This illustrates that we each have many different learning paths all leading to intelligence. Remember that children learn best when they play with toys and learn in a way which makes sense to them individually.
The seven pathways of learning can be summarised as follows: Spatial, physical, musical, verbal and logical learning, intrapersonal and interpersonal. Probably two of the two most important are intrapersonal learning, and interpersonal learning.
Intrapersonal play, that is independent, carried out alone type playing, fosters inner reflection and stimulates the child to become aware of their feelings. It is a critical aspect of healthy childhood development. Through playing alone children learn about their own emotions and thoughts, as well as how to control them.
Allowing children to apparently decide what they can do, and giving them the freedom to explore their environment at their own speed and at their own level improves self-motivation and self-esteem. Alone play allows them the freedom of using their creative imaginations to the full. Ideal toys and games for this type of learner would be stuffed toys, dolls or teddy bears, cars or models.
Equally important is interpersonal play, which encourages teamwork and understanding of others. Learning to play with others with cooperation teaches children to be part of a group. This type of play encourages children to work and play collaboratively, to share ideas and to become a team player. Ideal toys and games for this type of play would include multiple player board games.
Selecting an educational toy is not easy --- and most parents want to get it right. Fortunately, there are some excellent online toy stores from which to choose, offering all kinds of quality educational toys, from wooden toddler toys to kites, stuffed toys, swim gear, educational kits and exotic kites.
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