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Educational toys tips for parents
One of the most joyful rewards of parenting is seeing your child grow and learn—and toys can be an engaging part of the journey. Better yet, thoughtfully chosen toys can actually promote skills vital to your little one’s development.
Pick toys that match your child’s interests and abilities. Before a toy can contribute to your child’s development, she must be interested in playing with it. If your kid is into dinosaurs, look for games and toys that focus on prehistoric concepts. Or if your preschooler likes building, think about incorporating a set of alphabet blocks to encourage letter and sound recognition. Also, keep your child’s age in mind when selecting the right toy. A toy should be challenging enough to be fun, but not so difficult that it’ll frustrate your child enough to stop playing with it.
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Find age-appropriate board games that involve math and language skills. Multiples studies indicate that board games can improve math skills. For young children, playing board games provides the perfect opportunity to build counting skills as they move around a game board. While playing, they also learn how to strategize—which helps build both math and cognitive skills. There are also a number of different board games that encourage reading skills.
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Choose toys that spark imagination and provide opportunities for pretend play. Pretend play is a great way to develop creativity while promoting language and literacy skills at the same time. When children engage in pretend play, they build new vocabulary as they take on different characters and act out new situations. Play kitchen sets and pretend foods quickly become a home or restaurant. A toy cash register and play money can provide hours of fun as a make-believe store.
Opt for toys that promote social skills and collaborative play. Toys that encourage cooperation are vital for development of social skills at a young age. Board games are obvious choices—but experiment kits, puzzles and builders are also excellent. All of these toys show children how to take turns, how to share and how to compromise. For older children, these kinds of toys provide opportunities to learn how to work together and problem solve as a group.