As a parent, you want your child to have the very best chance for success. And if you’re like most parents, one of the most common worries you have is about your child’s future education.
Enrolling your child in the right schools – from preschool right up to their post secondary education – is a concern for many parents.
And because you want to give your child the best chance possible, buying them the best possible educational toys is something that’s very important.
But many parents and grandparents aren’t quite sure what an educational toy actually is or how it can really help.
So in this article we’ll help you understand what educational toys are, explain why they’re important, tell you about different types of educational toys and give you some tips on how to choose the best educational toys.
What Is An Educational Toy?
The popular definition for an educational toy is ‘a toy that develops a special skill or is about a particular subject’.
To be honest, that definition actually confuses a lot of parents because aren’t all toys meant to be educational in some way?
The simple truth is that all toys do have some educational value, some more than others.
In fact, playing with most toys can be as much an educational experience for your child as it is fun.
But toys that can be considered educational were being given to kids long before the term ‘educational toys’ was ever coined.
In ancient times parents had to be creative and make toys for their kids
Back then, toys for boys may have included wooden swords and bows and arrows; toys that would teach boys how to fight and survive.
Girls, on the other hand, received toys that taught them how to nurture and take care of things, such as dolls and wooden animal figures.
Fast forward to the 1700’s, when the term ‘educational toys’ was first used by philosopher John Locke.
Locke made the statement that using educational toys such as blocks or dice with letters of the alphabet on them could enhance a child’s learning of the alphabet.
Today, manufacturers label everything from baby rattles to math games as educational toys without telling perspective consumers exactly what educational value a toy may have.
One reason for this is because the actual educational value of a toy depends as much upon the child and how they use the toy as on the toy itself.
For example, for one child a simple ball may be used to provide exercise, build gross motor skills and improve their hand-eye coordination.
But another child playing with the same ball may learn about gravity or angles from bouncing the ball off the ground, a wall or other objects.
Although toys are not meant to replace classroom learning, if used correctly they may aid in your child’s learning and development.
Children Learn From A Variety Of Toys At Different Ages
You need to keep in mind that children learn all kinds of things from toys at different ages.
Puzzles that teach children to spell simple words won’t mean anything to an infant who is not yet speaking or a toddler who has yet to learn the alphabet.
Math games that require adding and subtracting aren’t going to be much use to a child who is not yet understanding numbers or who has not yet mastered simple counting.
When choosing any toy for your child, you need to choose one that matches their age and stage of development.
It’s great for a toy to present your child with a challenge, but that challenge should not be impossible for them to understand and complete.
Skills That Different Toys Can Help Develop
As a parent or grandparent, you want to choose educational toys that teach your child or grandchild a particular skill or set of skills.
Best Uses For Educational Toys
Types Of Educational Toys For Different Age Groups
The types of educational toys you purchase and how your child uses these toys is going to depend on the age of your child and how the toy is meant to be used.
Using Educational Toys To Help Your Child Explore New Interests
Toys can also be used as a way to allow your child to explore a wide range of new interests.
There are cheap instruments or toy instruments such as keyboards, recorders and drums that will allow your child to explore the world of playing and creating music.
Inexpensive cameras allow children to discover photography, telescopes can help your child explore astronomy and microscopes allow your child to explore a world that’s not visible to the naked eye.
There are a variety of toys that allow your child to explore new interests and to help them decide if that interest is something that they want to pursue.
This benefits you as a parent as you’ll get a strong indication of how much your child really enjoys their new-found interest before you lay out big bucks on an expensive camera, musical instrument or other expensive toys.
Tips For Choosing Appropriate Educational Toys For Your Child
Here are a few tips to help ensure that you’re choosing appropriate educational toys for your child.
As your child progresses through childhood, they will go through different developmental stages.
Educational toys are designed to teach your child specific things at specific stages to enhance their development at every age and stage.
There’s no doubt about it: there are many wonderful educational toys for girls, toys for boys and gender neutral toys on the market today.
But as we mentioned earlier, any toy has the potential to teach your toddler something.
By adding a fun factor into the learning process, you’ll stimulate their learning experience and ensure that they’ll want to keep playing with toys and games that can provide them with both education and fun!