While it is universally accepted that play is educational in itself and an important part of your babies development, through to childhood and beyond, within play there are specific toys designed to help with educational benefits beyond traditional and more popular, steadfast toys.
This article explores the differences and helps to explain what makes an educational toy educational, and the specific benefits of such toys.
So if all play is educational, how can some toys be more educational than others?
Educational toys should be designed to instruct, to promote intellectuality, or to assist with emotional and physical development. An educational toy can teach a child about a specific subject or help a child develop a specific skill.
Educational toys are designed to encourage development towards specific milestones, usually counting, speaking, walking, recognizing and reacting. They may include for example, rudimentary science games.
Building blocks t eh most classic and most traditional of toys help babies to identify colours, shapes and understand the science of gravity and balance. Babies learn that the blocks cannot be balanced top heavy, and stack the blocks accordingly. Of course at this stage they do not understand why the blocks cannot be stacked top heavy, but this game does help them to develop the understanding of problem solving, how to stack the blocks so they do not fall.
For a child a few years older, puzzles and jigsaws continue this logic of block fitting, but take the brain towards image recognition, creative thinking and hand eye co ordination. Puzzles help to increase understanding of special relationships, and a feeling of victory in a challenge; a jigsaw for example has a goal; to be completed. There is more satisfaction from the last piece than any other piece, the joy of seeing your child first feel proud of their play is a memory you will always treasure, and sets your child on the route for the enjoyment of tasks in themselves.
This enjoyment of completing a task is the starting base for all education, all successful work and education and a good building block if you can excuse the pun for a bright future for your children.
Children learn not only co ordination and problem solving through educational toys; there are toys that can assist with education in other areas of curriculum and activity as well.
Walking toys assist children with not just the physical movement of walking, but planning walking journeys. A wooden dog on string is one of the most recognizable traditional wooden toys
, and there is a reason for this; it helps early walkers to plan where they are walking to, they want to walk their dog. This is also another example of social integration, they are learning to walk a dog in the same way grown ups take their dogs for a walk.
It's hardly surprising; it is well documents that motivated students do more and enjoy their studies more, and it's the same with play, if the toys are educational and mix education with pleasure, and then educational toys have a great opportunity to connect learning with enjoyable experiences, and provide a connection between imaginative play and the real world.
Our advice is to get your children a range of toys that help to stimulate their mind, their thirst for knowledge and interest in play.
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