Which thing is required to label the toy as “educational”? Doesn’t a child learn something from every “toy,” a word actually derived from the Old English word meaning “tool?” And don’t advertisers try to lure parents by throwing in the word “educational” to describe any old toy they’re selling? True educational toys are developed specifically to encourage certain abilities in children while offering a high play value. Studies dating back to 1940 have shown that it is well worth a parent’s time and effort to research for a proper age-appropriate educational toy that can permanently improve a child’s IQ by more than 50 points.
Melissa and Doug is one of the leading designers and manufacturers of educational toys and children’s products. Here’s a brief overview that might help sift through the child development jargon and assist parents in choosing an educational toy that is the right fit for their children:
Child improvement terms
Gross motor ability & Fine motor ability – Gross motor skills refer to whole body movements from the large muscle groups, including standing, walking and running. Fine motor expertise are small muscle movements or dexterity, particularly in the fingers, and are necessary for such activities as buttoning shirts, zippering, writing, and sewing.
Hand-eye coordination – the eyes provide information on an object’s size, weight, texture etc. and direct the hands to the target. If it is disable,then the easiest task of picking up an object would be tough.
Cognitive/Intellectual awareness – how a child perceives and makes sense of his environment.
Social attention – learning to build and maintain relationships, share and cooperate with others.
Emotional awareness – a child’s sense of “self,” and his ability to understand and cope with his own feelings.
Creative expression – allowing a child the opportunity to use their imagination and express themselves. This can be offered either from a structured activity, such as a paint-by-number craft, that gives children a sense of accomplishment or by simply setting a drawing pad in front of them and encouraging their imaginations to “run wild.”
Educational Enjoy Activities
Puzzles – help develop persistence, problem solving, hand-eye coordination and fine motor capabilities
Dolls, Dress-up and Role play toys – promote intellectual and social awareness, creative manifestation and even fine motor capabilities (self-dressing)
Building toys – hand-eye coordination, creative expression, fine motor knowledge, patience, intellectual awareness and basic principles of science, such as causal relationships, spatial awareness and the effects of gravity.
Board and card games – social awareness, hand-eye coordination and fine motor ability
Musical instruments – promote hand-eye coordination, creative expression and auditory abilities. Music principle has also been proven to develop math ability.
Outdoor play toys – introduce children to social awareness and hand-eye coordination and develop their gross motor ability
Stages of Development
It is must for a parent to know about a toy’s recommended age group. Specially black & white toys appeal to very small age group kids. Babies 4 months and older will be more attracted to bright, primary colors and large surfaces. Older children will find smaller,more-complexed objects more stimulating. Follow a toy’s age guideline, while allowing at least a two-year span for a child’s individual stage of development. If a toy is recommended for ages 3 and up, it should be suitable for a child 3-5 years old.
Play Value and Playability
No matter how many ability an educational toy may boast about improving, it can’t teach a child anything if it breaks easily or sits untouched on the shelf. The best toys with the most play value are often the simplest and most durable and cover a multitude of skill development opportunities that encourage a child to play with them again and again. Melissa and Doug Fish Colors Mix n Match peg puzzle , for example, is an unpretentious wooden peg puzzle that not only offers 2 to 5 year-olds the benefits found in a typical puzzle for that age group, but also teaches children about colors, word recognition (by matching pieces with the names of colors) and creative expression (by interchanging pieces to create a different school of fish every time they play).
Games and outdoor toys that involve more than one player are especially desirable if they have high “playability,” meaning they can include and stimulate multiple players of varied ages. The popular dice game, Farkel , for instance, encourages math abilities and engages all players from ages 8 through adult.