Toys as building blocks

Toys as building blocks

Baby Steps

Monday, September 28, 2020

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WHAT toys does your toddler gravitate to? Building blocks? Legos? Electronics? A US study from 2016 found that traditional children's toys such as wooden puzzles, rubber blocks and shape-sorters may be more effective in increasing the quantity and quality of language in young children than modern electronic toys that produce lights, words, and songs.

Most times, parents choose toys depending on the stage their children are at, where they want them to be, and what their interests are. Many times there's a push towards educational toys because we believe that these will make our children smarter – even as the kids tend to seem more interested in the box the toys came in than the actual toy.

Here are some tips for choosing toys, based on studies that have assessed children's interaction with some of the more popular options.

1. Researchers have concluded that both book reading and play with traditional toys are effective for facilitating language and encourage a ric, communicative interaction between parents and infants, whereas playing with electronic toys, which are often promoted as being educational and are often more expensive than traditional toys and books, should be discouraged.

2. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has advised that the best kind of learning for children is through interactive play with humans and toys, not electronic gadgets and screens.

3. Simpler, hands-on toys that parents and young children can play with together are preferable to electronics or other such gadgets for healthy development.

4. The AAP also suggests:

a. Recognise that one of the most important purposes of play with toys throughout childhood, and especially in infancy, is not educational at all but rather to facilitate warm, supportive interactions and relationships.

b. Provide children with safe, affordable toys that are developmentally appropriate. Include toys that promote learning and growth in all areas of development. Choose toys that are not overstimulating and encourage children to use their imaginations.

c. Make a thoughtful selection of toys and remember that a good toy does not have to be trendy or expensive. Sometimes the simplest toys may be the best in that they provide opportunities for children to use their imagination to create the toy's use, not the other way around. Choose toys that will grow with the child, foster interactions with caregivers, encourage exploration and problem-solving, and spark the child's imagination.

d. Keep in mind that toys are not a substitute for warm, loving, dependable relationships. Use toys to enhance interactions between the caregiver and child rather than to direct the child's play.

e. Limit video game and computer game use. Total screen time, including television and computer use, should be less than one hour per day for children two years or older and avoided in children 18 to 24 months of age. Children younger than five years should play with computer or video games only if they are developmentally appropriate, and they should be accompanied by the parent or caregiver.

f. Seek out toys that encourage the child to be both mentally and physically active.

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