If you have been following my microblog, you already know that
- Early learning is important because it is the period of rapid brain development.
- 0-6 years is the Sensitive period for a lot of skills.
- Presenting the child with appropriate learning materials is of utmost importance.
- I have a love affair with Montessorian approach, and try my best to incorporate these practices at home.
Play is serious business, and the best form of learning for children.
Consider this- You show your kid an apple and say ” apple”. Baby repeats.
Now consider this.
You give said baby, an apple.
Baby touches it, feels it, holds it, smells it, throws it, bites it, and asks you what it is.
You say “apple”.
Baby correlates and repeats.
This is what an ideal toy should do. Promote multi sensory learning.
When a child places blocks, one atop the other and encounters one that doesn’t fit, he is encouraged to think analytically and laterally and solve a problem.
When a child pretend plays, with a doll or animal figurines, he is learning imagination and language.
When a child manipulates parts of toys, his motor skills are developing.
As busy parents, we need to rack our brains for toys and activities that engage our children, at the same time, impart some skills.
Let us look at the major problems we have while choosing toys and simple tricks to overcome them.
1. Which one?
The market is full, no overflowing with toy types and brands of every imaginable size and color! How do you choose the right one for your child?
– Follow your child’s cues.
I know that pretend play kitchen set is beautiful and at a fab price, but would your kid really like it? What are your child’s interests?
– Do your market research
Once you zero in on the toy, check out a couple of local as well as online stores for competitive prices.
– Simple is best, really
So during a playdate, baby V was obsessed with her friend’s eletronic piano cum drums, something that gave out lights and multiple sounds when beaten. Like a diligent mom (eyeroll) I ordered the same the minute I reached home. I’ve never regretted my impulsive decision more. Lights and sounds from multiple places in the toy overstimulated baby V and gave me a headache.
Not to mention, gadgets and any type of screen is harmful for babies and can cause addiction. ( When you read, your eyes and hands are working, and so are those areas of the brain that process words, imagine, memorise and output. That, unfortunately is not the case with passive screen time). I know, it is super difficult for parents in nuclear set ups to engage their children, then. Read on, though. 🙂
2. When to splurge?
Before buying a particular toy, ask yourself these questions.
– Does it enhance some skill?
– Do we already have another toy at home that encourages the same skill?
– Can I use the materials available at home to encourage the same skill? (Example- Do I need to buy the montessori jars and glasses or can i make do with the tumblers and measuring cups at home for pouring activities?)
– Is it durable? (In my case, I ask myself “Will it last until baby 2 comes along, whenever that is!?”
– Is it Value for money?
-Will my child like it?
-Will my child be able to use this independently in the next 3 months?
3. How do I maintain these toys?
Simple. Get your child to help. Baby V has been helping us put our toys away since she was a year old. Make it a fun part of your sleeping ritual. Have a dedicated space for you baby’s toys that he/ she can access independently and put them away too.
Try to provide just enough stimulation. Just enough toys within baby’s eyesight. The rest inside a cupboard or elsewhere.
Im a huge fan of wooden toys as opposed to the garish electronic toys because
- Wooden toys are safer
- Wooden toys are versatile- They can be used in multiple ways. So, bonus, they also help in pretend play and improving imagination,. Don’t believe me? So we have these wooden tangrams, that baby V mouthed; now we just use them for sorting based on colors, sizes and shapes; soon she will be able to do free play with them; and finally make the expected complicated patterns.
- Children are more inclined towards natural materials like wood/ cloth as opposed to plastic.
- Durable- Wooden toys last much much longer than their plastic and electronic counterparts. Ask a throwing, biting, gnawing baby this, and you will know.
That comes to our last problem.
4. Where do I buy such toys from?
There are some amazing options out there, our recent find being Skola toys. They incorporate the Montessori approach while manufacturing toys. Of course I was sold. More on that, later though.
Is there anything else you would like to add, or ask? Do let me know in the comments below.
Disclaimer- This is a sponsored post, although the opinions in this post are my own, based on my experiences.