It’s natural for parents to want to lavish their children with toys; the joy that playtime brings can often bring magic moments that will live on in the memory for years to come. And while it’s important to strike the right balance between educational activities and out-and-out fun, the two don’t necessarily need to be mutually exclusive.
Playtime can easily be productive as well as joyful depending on the specific activity being undertaken or toy being played with.
While the very notion of ‘educational toys’ may well have parent and child alike rolling their eyes, the reality is that there are a number of products on the market that will greatly aid your child’s development while maintaining the fun factor.
Whether it’s a simple set of paints or a selection from the ever-popular Lego range, those toys and games that can be used in a creative way are the ones you should be aiming for. Children have an innate sense of discovery and wonder that can really be brought to the forefront and nurtured with the right kind of structured play.
Much like setting aside time to read with your child can help them to develop their reading and writing skills from a young age, using the right kind of toys can be a huge boost to the growth of their imagination and creative tendencies.
Of course, there’s still room for traditional play; the last thing you want to do is force your little one to try and expand their abilities for every hour that they’re awake. Similarly, there’s no point in forcing your child to play with a toy that they simply don’t enjoy, even if it is a particularly useful aid for creative development. Introduce new toys slowly into their playtime routine and allow their natural curiosity do the rest.
Playtime should still be about having fun first and foremost, so make sure you’re striking the right balance between enjoyment and education. Creative toys are a useful aid to your child’s development all the way through to adolescence, but research does indicate that the earlier you can introduce them the better. The sooner children are confronted with toys and games that test them as well as entertain them, the easier they will find it to develop new skills along the way.
As your child gets older be sure to speak to them specifically about the toys that they’re playing with to give you a better understanding of which ones they enjoy the most and why. That way, you can make an informed decision on what to get the next time you decide they deserve a gift. If your little boy is among the huge number of kids that enjoy playing with Hot Wheels cars, for instance, consider buying him a car-related toy with a modular road system.
This way, he can let his creative side blossom as he comes up with new track configurations, while still getting the pure thrill from racing the vehicles around when he’s done.