By Melissa Stevens
As Einstein once described, playing is a form of research. And for children it is the most important form of research and preparation for life. Every toy is a child’s portal to new discoveries, and that’s why it’s important to choose each toy individually, according to child’s age, interests and needs.
What we describe as “simple playing” is in fact much more. By “simply” playing, children are developing attitudes, abilities, habits and preferences that will stick by them all their lives.
Playing with toys and also with their peers is a path towards creating the habit of sharing, learning how to cope with frustrations, acquiring the skill of negotiation and self-improving. You see now? It’s much more than “simple playing”.
Toys And Children’s Development
Toys are opportunities for a child to acquire much needed skills for the future. Children are developing and improving their language, social, cognitive, intellectual, creative and fine motor skills, by playing with toys. Of course children can’t play completely independent, especially if they are younger than school kids.
First of all, they can’t select and buy their own toys. It is parents’ duty to choose games, toys and the place and time of playing. A parent can also participate actively in playing and by doing that stimulate infant’s brain. Toys can stimulate senses of hearing, touch and sight. Senses are necessary for discovering the world, and that’s why it is crucial to stimulate them with different toys and games. They can also improving a child’s hand-eye coordination, especially balls and colorful items.
Toys By Ages And Stages
Not every toy is for every child. Depending on the age of the infant and the abilities the toy needs to develop and improve, parents make the decision which one they will buy. For each stage of a child’s development there is a different type of toys and games parents should introduce.
There are few guidelines they should follow when it comes to selecting the toys that will have a positive effect to children in different life ages, but above all it is important for a toy to be safe for your child to play with.
- Younger than six months: At this stage, children are attached to their parents, and they learn from them the most. They are connected to their mother’s and father’s voice, so you should stimulate that voice recognition, by reading fairytales and singing songs. As for toys, bright colored ones that will draw their attention are the best choice. Also, you should avoid tiny toys which they can swallow, and stick to safe sucking toys.
- Six to twelve months: This is the golden age when children are recognizing and remembering shapes and solving problems. Now is the perfect time to challenge their brains and motor skills. Toys that are introducing them to sound and music instruments will do wonders to their developing hearing skills and also a great stimulus to acquiring speaking skills.
- Twelve months and older: Until now children were just discovering the world, now they are starting to understand it. That’s why this is the right time to introduce them to different sorts of simple educational toys. Dolls, robots and stuffed animals will serve to develop their imagination, while building blocks, ABC blocks, and puzzles will help them develop creative, motor and cognitive skills.
- As for older children, they will, according to their interest and needs, will know how to choose the right games and toys for them, with a little help from their parents.
The Importance Of Playing With Peers
Playing with their peers is essential, because of development of social skills. By playing with someone they are practicing positive interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication. When they are trying to obtain a certain role in a game of more participants, they are actually acquiring negotiation knowledge.
Their formative years are crucial to learning these “people skills”. Simple games of role playing may teach kids to embrace social rules, and show them the way of cooperating, compromising and approaching their peers the best way.
Every child in every part of the world has the need to play. No matter if the conditions allow him/her to play with an expensive toy bought from renowned toymaker, or with a paper plane and a doll made of clay. Without playing and toys, they would enter this world unprepared for all the challenges that await them.