Toys are important for young children. They are a great way to kickstart your child’s play and support their development by strengthening their imagination and motor skills. The best toys for young children are usually ‘open-ended’ ones that they can use in many different ways. Parents are advised not to choose a toy because it’s their child’s favourite character. Instead, it’s always important to consider your child’s age, development and safety before handing them a new toy.
Here are some tips for choosing the right toys based on your child’s age:
1. Consider Open-Ended Toys
Open-ended toys refer to toys that can be used in various ways and are more likely to encourage open-ended play. This means there is no one set way to play with open-ended toys. Take for instance, a stick can be used as a wand, a walking cane, a sword or maybe even part of a musical instrument. Often described as 90% child and 10% toy, these open-ended toys leave plenty of room for a child’s input.
As a result, open-ended toys provide more opportunities for children to engage in critical thinking and problem-solving. They also foster creativity, imagination and problem-solving skills. At the same time, playing with open-ended toys help your child develop both gross and fine motor skills they need for self-help in school.
Open-ended toys you can consider having in your home include:
- Blocks – these are perfect for stacking, building, make-believe and many more.
- Balls – your child can bounce, look at them, roll, hold and even throw them around.
- Cardboard boxes – from shop counters to ovens, cars and houses, this help to expand your child’s imagination as they play-pretend.
2. Choose Toys for Children of Different Ages
Many toys have age-range information on their packaging, and while this can be useful, parents should always note that it’s only a guide for play. Instead, when choosing toys for your child, it’s always best to consider your child’s interests and stage of development. Age-range information can be important for safety though, for instance, parents should avoid buying toys with small parts a toddler could swallow.
For babies, play is all about interacting with you, other caregivers and family members. Your baby will delight in watching your face, listening to your voice and being with you. Thus, play activities like pressing the buttons of a brightly-coloured mobile or learning to reach for a rattle are much more fun when your baby does it together.
As they grow older and become toddlers, your child will enjoy playing with boxes, building blocks, containers and even clothing for dress-ups. Most toddlers enjoy open-ended play and simple musical instruments they can shake and bang around. Pretend-play also has far-reaching development benefits that positively impact social, emotional, language development and creativity. Children who engage in pretend play can also use more cohesive oral language. On the other hand, older children often like to problem-solve and use their imagination. As such, puzzles or games that encourage your child to play with others are ideal.
2. Opt for Toys That Do Not Dictate How Play Should be Done
The way your child uses a toy is far more critical than the toy itself when determining its effects on your child’s development. Advertised toys are often designed to promote a specific type of play based on a movie or TV programme – think dolls and animal figurines that are part of a movie franchise. While this doesn’t necessarily make them bad toys, it might limit the play options for your child. For example, your child only plays with these toys to copy what happens in the shows they’ve watched instead of using their imagination. Hence, thinking about how your child might play with the toy can help you decide whether it’s the right one for them and their development.
3. Pick Toys that are Aligned with Your Family Values
As parents, you’re the one who decides which toys are okay for your child to play with within your home. And, if you have strong feelings about certain toys, it’s a good idea to sit and talk with your child about it. However, drawing too much attention to the toys to the extent of banning them or refusing to buy them can make your child want them more.
Instead, it might work better when you try linking your family values or teachings with how your child plays and uses toys in everyday life. For instance, if your child wants a tablet device or a gaming console, you could try making more time to get outside to play together. Then, you can talk about how physical activity is better for them than screen time.
MindChamps PreSchool Encourage Crafted Play™ Through MindScape®
A child’s attitude towards learning or education is shaped when preschool, making this period important for change and development. As MindChamps PreSchool understands how a child’s mind develops, it has also introduced a new concept in playgrounds known as MindScape®. This innovative indoor playground optimises learning by bringing together the elements of Crafted Play™.
Developed by and unique to MindChamps, Crafted Play™ focuses on allowing children to explore and test their boundaries. It is an effective preschool activity that engages children as they make those mental connections through hands-on play activities that promote a concrete understanding of concepts and spatial skills.
At MindScape®, children can engage their different senses as they explore and learn, igniting their imagination through play. This play environment also stimulates your child’s sensory-emotional experience which is necessary for their mental and physical development.
Suppose you are looking for a preschool or kindergarten in Singapore that will encourage your child’s overall development through play. In that case, MindChamps PreSchool offer a broad range of early learning programmes and preschool activities that have been specifically designed for your child’s needs. Book a visit to our centre to learn more about MindScape® and our preschool activities.