Children learn through play
Play is their job. As parents, it’s our job to remember that creative toys develop creative play. We need to provide the right toys and the right places to help them explore, inspect, create, and question everything around them.
Some of you may be thinking, “But my child will get bored with simple toys.” Think again! Studies show that children that learn through repetition, doing the same thing again and again, have faster processing skills and stronger connections in their brain.
Children are creative problem-solvers; they’re discoverers; they’re active, says Hirsh-Pasek, the Lefkowitz Professor of Psychology at Temple and co-director of the Temple University Infant Lab. “Your child gets to build his or her imagination around these simpler toys; the toys don’t command what your child does, but your child commands what the toys do.” Therefore they need creative toys to aid them in this.
Less is More
Children will always make do with what they have. A child will concentrate longer on just a few toys if that’s what they’re being given. Having more toys might actually lead to scattered play, as they move from toy to toy.
If the eyes can be distracted by colourful, noisy, flashing things, then their brains are just as distracted too; rather than really working through something.
Kids are not like empty vessels to be filled
Toy manufacturers are playing on parents’ fears that our children will be left behind if they don’t have the very latest toy, or game.
Instead, look for creative toys that are 10 percent toy and 90 percent child. There are many toys in the shops today that direct the play activity of children by:
- talking to them,
- singing to them, and
- asking them to press buttons and levers.
But children like to figure out what is going on by themselves. They learn best when they find out for themselves, rather than being directed. So when shopping for toys, look instead for creative toys that don’t command/direct them, but lets them command/direct it. The less a toy tells your child what to do, the freer they will be to use the toy creatively.
Shopping for Creative Toys – Tips
Some tips to remember when shopping for toys
- Toys are meant to be platforms for play; they should be props within your children’s play, not directing the play.
- How much can you do with it? Is it a toy that they can take apart and remake or reassemble into something different, which builds their imagination?
- If it’s a toy that asks your child to supply one thing, such as fill-in-the-blank or give one right answer, it is not allowing children to express their creativity. Instead look for something that they can take apart and remake or reassemble into something different, which builds their imagination and gives your child opportunities to make their own worlds.
- Look out for red flags such as promises about learning or brain growth. If the toy is promising that your child is going to be bilingual or learn calculus by playing with it, the chances are high that this is not going to happen.
- Does the toy encourage social interaction?
Good luck, and remember real educational toys are not the flashy gadgets and gismos with big promises, but the beautifully crafted staples that have built creative thinkers for decades.