How toys must be fun to educate. Choosing educational toys.

September 17, 2018

How toys must be fun to educate. Choosing educational toys.

Remember how boring a class was when your teacher just repeatedly told you something that she thought was important to learn? We all have that least favorite subject where we learned nothing because there was no sense of discovery, no fun, no excitement and thus no interest.

We learned best when we discovered something ourselves; when it was not made to look like work. Those English prose passages seemed a lot less interesting than what was in the storybook. That frog you saw in the garden after a spell of rain was always more memorable than the ones you saw in the bio book. 

What is an educational and learning toy?

As parents, we all want to give our children all the advantages we can provide – especially education.  We huff, and we puff, and we look, and we search for all that can teach them something. One of the ways we do this is through educational toys. But what exactly are educational toys? Is learning a particular response to a stimulus what education is? If that were the case, we would stop learning very soon, and there would be no original thought, no new solutions, no boundaries challenged or pushed.  So what is an educational and learning toy? Opinions differ (as they do with everything) but ultimately it is a toy that helps the child grow, enhance their skills and boost development.

What role do educational toys play?

We have also come to learn that it is not the toy that must be smart, to make our babies smart. What makes babies smart is their interaction with toys that allow them to discover, explore and grow.

Of course, educational toys play a significant role in your child’s development. Children spend almost all their waking hours in play, so it stands to reason that it is also how they learn. Educational toys contribute to a child’s social, motor and intellectual development.  The best educational toys are just fun. Your little one is engrossed and does not know that they are learning something every time they play.  Take, for instance, building blocks. While your child balances them atop one another, trying to build the tallest tower or the longest line, they are learning spatial skills, balance, motor skills, visual acuity among others.

Social intelligence or the ability to negotiate through the world we live in, interacting with other human beings is something we all must learn. Shaking hands in the West is as essential to signify a connection as bowing to others is in Japan. While we do not expect any fine cultural distinctions like this from kids, they must learn the basics of sharing, waiting their turn, listening, etc. You can teach a child about road manners even as he plays with his toy cars. You can guide them in teamwork through a game of football.  So what might be a round object to be kicked about becomes a tool for social intelligence.

To come back to the basics, you must actually go back to the basics. A toy must be only 10% of the game; the other 90% must come from the child who is playing with that toy. Toys must provide hours and even years of free play to be genuinely educational. A child of 2 can play with building blocks as can a child of 6 or 7, with each one discovering different things as they play with them.

So when you look for educational toys for your little one, just look for what keeps them engaged, makes them happy, is made with safe materials and can last for long. And enjoy your time with them! You are doing it right!




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