Laura May is Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine. We write about beauty, fashion, lifestyle, relationships, travel and trends.
While it’s easy to think that playtime is just a chance for kids to have a bit of fun — it’s actually also a really important part of their education.
Play helps children to learn invaluable social and life skills that they’re going to need in later life, plus it gives them a better understanding of important concepts and lessons that are included in more formal education. Introducing educational toys to kids at a young age is a crucial part of this process.
What play teaches kids
Play is one of the best ways that young children can earn about the world around them and develop important skills:
Social skill development
Learning isn’t all about understanding concepts and remembering facts, it’s also about developing the social skills kids need to interact with others and form relationships. These kinds of things are harder to teach in a formal educational setting, but play helps kids collaborate and communicate with each other. They’ll naturally learn how to work together, share, and understand others.
Playing with educational toys also helps kids learn how to solve problems. They have the space to start understanding cause and effect and test out their ideas to find solutions. It also encourages them to develop their creativity and learn from their mistakes without any judgment.
Play will also help them to understand and reinforce some of the concepts that they are starting to learn about. While you can teach your kids to memorize numbers, playing with toys can help them to properly understand what the numbers actually mean.
How young children benefit from educational toys
From the moment they are born, children are absorbing the world around them and learning important lessons ,and educational toys are a great way to support their learning and development from the beginning.
Under 12 months
In their first year, toys that focus on shapes, colors, textures, movement, and sounds are going to help babies develop their senses. Mobiles and other toys with contrasting colors will stimulate their vision, and rattles and toys that make music will help with hearing.
A good place to find a wide range of colorful educational toys suitable for babies is manhattantoy.com. They’re bright, engaging, and designed to focus on developing the different senses.
As they start to grow and become more aware of their surroundings, put toys within their reach that they can pick up, move about, and drop so that they start to learn about cause and effect.
Building blocks are often a great way to help them develop motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and problem-solving skills. They will start to get an understanding of how things can be built and put together, and how they fall apart.
While those early toys are still important and children will continue to play with them, after the first year they will start to become more mobile. Children will start to need more variety in the toys they're playing with to help their development and encourage curiosity.
For example, melissanddoug.com has a range of different developmental toys such as stackers, activity tables, and soft blocks that are all suitable for children under 2 years.
At this age children need to learn about balance and coordination — toys such as push cars and walkers are perfect for this and encourage them to move about independently. Shape sorters where they have to match up objects will also help them to make associations and learn about size, shape, and colors.
Themed books will also help young children to develop recognition and language skills. For example, books about animals will help them to learn what noises are associated with each creature. You don’t need to buy every toy available, but it’s important to have a range of educational toys that focus on different skills and important lessons.
As they get older children are going to need more toys that encourage them to be active. They also need toys that focus specifically on developing their cognitive skills and introducing ideas and concepts that they'll learn about in schools such as letters, numbers, and language.
Games and books that focus on specific themes or topics will help with reading and literacy. Reading the same story or playing the same game will help children form associations with different things, and they'll start to understand how the words that they hear out loud look on the page.
A kids subscription box like the ones from sagominibox.com is specifically designed for learning through play. Each box is packed with a fun and engaging make-and-play activity that will teach them about a different theme every month.
Educational toys that teach them about alphabet recognition, understanding letters, and help them to begin writing are also important at this stage. As well as counting toys so that they can develop numeracy skills. These will help them to have fun while learning important concepts that can prepare them for school.
Once kids have started at school it’s important to keep encouraging them to play with educational toys at home to keep them motivated and increase their retention of the things they learn in school.
Play is a crucial part of young children’s development and learning, but it’s important that they have access to the right educational toys that will support them from the beginning.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 03, 2020:
Very interesting. I never thought about it formally. My 4 all had what you describe before 12 months.