by Stevanne Auerbach, Dr. Toy
Things to think about when shopping for your children’s playthings:
Toys are an important part of every child’s life. It is a wonderful feeling to give the right toy. Selecting one that’s a hit is a challenge. With more than 300,000 toys and children’s products, choices can be overwhelming.
As a mom you want to find the best products you can for your child. Most important of course is how the child plays with the product and the time you spend together at play. A lot of guidance is available in my Club Mom articles, in my book, Smart Play/Smart Toys and on this website to assist you in selecting the best product and playing effectively (and joyfully!) with your child at any age.
Before you purchase toys, think about:
Your child’s age
Thing your child need practice with or skills he needs to develop:
Select the toy or other product that fits your child right now, not in a few years or a few years ago. Ask yourself: Can my child benefit from this product?
Is it the right product to match their interests and abilities?
Will it help him or her learn a skill?
Will she enjoy it and have fun?
What abilities does he or she need to make the most of the toy?
Select toys that offer a good balance to your child’s activities. A good variety of toys provide activity, creativity, and learning.
You want to help your child find that balance in their day so that they are involved in play that is as healthy as possible.
Activity Toys develop coordination and improve small and large motor skills and balance. Begin with balls and beanbags; add a trike, bike, and skates. You can find a Jump rope, HULA HOOP®, and a kite for more active fun. Check whether your child is ready for the activity and knows the safety rules before setting him loose with the toy.
Creativity Toys stimulate your child’s self-_expression. Your child can draw pictures anytime with crayons, finger-paints, and watercolors. Put your child’s pictures up on a wall so others can admire his or her artwork. This helps also to reinforce your child’s feeling good about their creative _expression and helps them to understand the value of looking at art work. Your child will find clay, crayons and PLAY-DOH® additional fun and of benefit. Craft sets as they grow more able will provide a lot of play value and learning. Children will learn to follow directions, a sequence of activities and enjoy the results of their creativity.
Learning Toys help us to remember that learning takes place in many ways. Books, tapes, software, CDs, puzzles, and board games all contribute. Your child should read books (alone and with you), listen to tapes and CDs and also learn to use computer software. Take time to read stories together as much as possible. Reading together before the child goes to sleep is a great way to end the day. Discuss the programs your family watches on TV. Play games and do puzzles together whenever you can. “Family Time” will be more fun if you find new things to do and new products to play with.
Finding the right products and creating time for a variety of playthings promotes balance in your child’s day and gives them many activities to enjoy. The right toy at the right time can make a big difference.