I often get asked on how to engage a toddler with educational and learning toys. While every parent wishes their toddler learn and develop through play. The key lies in introducing activities that are age appropriate and match the developmental milestones. A good learning toy can help foster the child’s imagination and creativity.
So how do we as parents choose the correct educational toys for our children? A few key criteria in toy selection can go a long way in enriching our children cognitively and simultaneously build a collection of toys that lasts a long time.
Selection Criteria For Learning Toys
That shiny train set staring back at you from the toy store window may look like the best gift for your child, but you need to check a few things before you go ahead and buy it.
Always look for the age group indicated on the toy. This is a safeguard against buying toys meant for older children that contain small parts that pose a choking risk to your young child.
- Check that a toy has smooth edges and is devoid of pointed parts.
- It should be made with sturdy materials that can sustain extensive rough use.
- The size, shape, and weight should also be manageable for your child.
- Paints used in the toy are lead-free and use natural pigments.
Each stage of development goes hand in hand with a certain set of skills. As children grow they become adept at performing certain tasks. The toys you choose should also match the difficulty level according to the age of the child.
If a toy is too complex the child can get frustrated with it and may not be able to enjoy the toy. The recommended age group specified on the toy should help you in making this decision.
How to select age appropriate toys? Ask yourself these questions when you are shopping for toys the next time
- Does the toy allow age appropriate problem-solving?
- Is it challenging the child in an incremental manner as he grows, allowing the child to use the same toy in different ways?
A simple example can be stacking toys that vary according to age and skill level of the child. These toys challenge the child’s age appropriate skill level and their simple design foster creativity to use the toy in different ways. Look at the below example of a stacking toy designed for age and skill level of the child.
It’s a simple fact that wooden toys outlast plastic toys. There is a reason why they are called generational toys. They serve as toys when we are kids and take us down the memory lane, as we grow older. It’s important to check that the wooden toys are made out of hardwood and use safe natural paints.
Simple & Open-Ended
Toddlers are great at repurposing household articles; a rectangular cardboard box can serve as a bus one day and a house the next.
Open ended toys are often simple and don’t overwhelm the senses, on the contrary they challenge children to use their creativity. Great examples of open ended toys are building blocks and stacking/nesting rings. These toys allow the toddler to take charge of how to play with them. They grow with the child and provide limitless opportunities for play.
Battery operated toys often overwhelm a child’s senses. This is especially true if a single toy contains varied colors, shapes, textures, flashing lights and loud music. The child may not be able to focus on any one learning concept.
However a simply designed wooden shape sorter, for example, allows the child an opportunity to focus on shape sorting and from there to move onto other concepts.
In my quest to find such educational toys I came across Skola Toys. They design wooden educational toys that are researched to target developmental milestones. Skola Toys aims to break down key developmental skills and learning concepts as per the age of the child. This helps cement learning the concept through play. They call this the Learning Journeys.
They cover learning journeys like Dexterity, Environment, Numbers, Language and Cognition through their wooden toys.
These type of learning toys are more enjoyable to the child and help in the better understanding of concepts. You can check all their learning toys here.
What criteria do you use to select toys for your little ones? Leave me a comment below.
Posts on toy gift guides:
- The only toys you need for baby (0 – 12 months old)
- The only toys you need for your toddler (1 – 2 years old)
This is a sponsored post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.