This is a million dollar question. The answer to this is both yes and no. There are millions of poor people out there who’s children do not have the luxury of toys, for starters they are expensive and most parents would rather feed their child when it comes to the crunch. As guilty as a parent may feel when choosing food over toys for their offspring – it is the right choice as food feeds the mind in a more practical way than any toy on the market.
Most middle class children are born with a huge toy collection, many of these toys are just for fun, while some are of educational value a parent may find the child prefers the box the educational toy came in.
Children do not need toys to learn, [though in some cases it does assist them to mature [motor skills, talking etc] faster] as the environment they live in has a lot of educational and development objects just waiting to be explored. A child can improve its imagination just by playing with a couple of loose bricks it has found in the yard [not to mention improving the motor skills while building with these] Going to the park and using the jungle gym can improve their motor and socializing skills.
So the question is – are educational toys necessary?
There are hundreds of toy manufacturers out there, and they are more than willing to feed the ‘educational toy’ frenzy, many parents and grandparents prefer to buy the so called educational toys as this makes them feel good about their purchase and they hope it will help educate and amuse the child they bought it for. Many child development experts say that there is no harm in buying the kids educational toys, but they could get the same education and development benefits by playing with a variety of simple objects that are around the house on in the yard. So the answer is yes and no again!
Toys for stimulation and imagination
While all kids love the electronic toy age, these are not designed to encourage independent thinking. The simplest toys like building blocks, crayons, puppets etc. play a really important role in cognitive development because these toys encourage the child to use their own imagination and to think and create
All parents should encourage their child to go play groups, or to play with the neighborhood children, By having fun and simply playing cops and robbers these kids are stimulating their minds with imaginary games and learning the social skills needed for later on in life. Allowing the children to play dress-up, go to puppet theaters, play with craft supplies and play board games is also a good way to stimulate their busy minds.
Children are the great imitators of the world, so let them in the kitchen, make them measure out some ingredients, count out the cutlery needed to set the table etc. This is a great way for the parent to spend time with the child and they are combining learning with play. Why not try find a miniature stove, pots, pans etc for the little girl in your life, she will cook for you forever [here’s hoping you like mud pies:-)]
Remember – above all else – keep the learning curve fun, do not force the issue, a child forced into doing something it does not want to do will get a mental block and you would have lost the battle of the child having fun while been sneakily educated.
Candice is a full time author and entrepreneur. Visit her at Little Tikes Cozy Coupe for a whole range of toys available for infants and toddlers and children.