From inspiring creativity to building cognition, educational toys can have a far-reaching impact on a child’s development. In a way, all toys are educational toys as they train a child in some skill or the other through an interactive learning process. However, there are certain toys that are, by definition, deemed educational toys. These are toys designed specifically to address the educational development needs of your child.
The difference between an ordinary toy that incidentally also educates and a regular educational toy lies in the fact that the latter helps a child develop a specific skill. You could also say an educational toy teaches a child about a specific subject.
What a good educational toy does
All good educational toys seek to enhance the physical, mental, social and intellectual development of a child. Though different kinds are crafted for different age-groups, depending on their specific requirements, educational toys, by and large, help inspire better cognitive and creative development in a child.
They also help guide a child’s responsive behavior and attitudes as it explores the world around. So you’ll find a good educational toy not only inculcating the values of patience and self-esteem, but also a basic level of hand-eye coordination. It’ll teach your child the basics of science (minus the scientific terminology) and of spatial relationships.
Points to keep in mind
As you go hunting for the best educational toys for your child, take into account the specific skill or skills it’ll help the child learn. Will the toy strengthening your baby’s muscles? Riding bikes and rocking horses usually help in doing that. Is your child learning to balance and coordinate its body parts, or perhaps learning to better control its muscles?
A lot of toys help in this process; building blocks, for instance, require not only better hand-eye coordination but also a lot of muscle control.
Look for toys that’ll stir your child’s imagination. Many toys designed for pretend games and for arts and crafts can help do that. See if the toy you’ve picked up will teach your child to be self-confident and patient.
These are values that’ll really stand your child in good stead for life. A good educational toy will challenge your child’s mind and inspire it to achieve the task it sets out for.
It’s not about skills alone
Remember, educational toys aren’t confined to skill development. Value training is a critical aspect of a good educational toy. As mentioned earlier, find toys that you’re sure shall help your child become a more patient and self-confident human being.
Your child will become confident if it’s able to successfully complete a task set by a toy. It could be building blocks or shape identification or anything else that gives a sense of satisfaction to your baby’s little heart.
Look for toys that need collaborative efforts; that’ll teach your child the values of cooperation and friendship. Give your child a toy that brings out its latent energy. Then there are toys that can help children release their pent-up emotions, such as anger or frustration (yes, children have them too!). A toy that requires a child to throw or pound at things or pull them apart usually works well in this.
The point is that a toy need not necessarily be dubbed an educational toy to work as a learning tool for your child. There’s nobody better clued into your child’s development than you. So go by your instinct to pick up educational toys that you feel are best suited to enhance your child’s learning process.
Your child’s age is, of course, a key factor in choosing the best educational toys. Its interests and learning level will also direct your choice of educational toys. Another key factor to be kept in mind is the safety aspect, which again will vary with the child’s age.
Certain toys aren’t safe for a child under 5, others are quite harmless. So choose the toys with care.
Go for toys that are attractive to look at and have multiple uses. Variety is a good way of keeping your child absorbed with the toy for a longer time. Brightly colored toys will attract and keep a young child occupied better than dull ones.
When choosing these kinds of toys, find ones without sharp edges and go for toys that are non-breakable and preferably washable, too. For toddlers, toys that encourage them to jump, run or climb are just perfect.