Play is children’s work. Every time your child chooses and picks up a toy, and plays with you, “he works” at improving different aspects of his development which includes motor, speech and social skills. However, playing with toys is often harder than it looks, and all children vary in their ability to do their so called “work”.
This is where choosing of toys comes in. Often times, parents would buy the most expensive toys. Some has this idea of “the more expensive, the better.”, but this does not apply to toys. There is a wide range selection of toys in the market. All has its own benefits too. The question is, which is the best toy to help in improving the holistic development of our children.
Below are the toys that speech therapists and teachers recommend and its benefits to our children:
- CAUSE AND EFFECT TOYS
This is the easiest toy that your child can use. These toys require your child to push a button or pull a lever in order to produce a sound or make a pop-up toy appear. Some toys also produce light when pressed. These toys are perfect for exploration.
- VISUAL-SPATIAL TOYS
Visual-spatial toys have a built-in structure that enables your child to figure it out. Toys like puzzles, nesting cups, stacking rings, shape-sorters and pegboards are toys that your child may understand just by looking at them. These toys also help with their problem-solving skills and visual discrimination.
- CONSTRUCTION TOYS
Construction toys are the children’s most favorite toy. Lego blocks, building blocks and connecting toys like beads stringing are the best examples. Hands-on learners love these toys! All these can be used for lessons in patterning, counting, one-to-one corresponding or mainly for building towers, castles and many more.
- EXCHANGE TOYS
One of the ways that your child first learns to include you in his play with toys is by giving you an object and then taking in back. This is called exchange. Objects like ball, beanbags, rings, koosh balls, nerf balls, hand stress relievers and balloons make a good exchange toys that you and your child can pass back and forth. This helps with your child’s focus and engagement in the activity. When your child is read, you can turn the exchange into the game of catching! This will work on their eye-hand coordination too.
- PEOPLE TOYS
For early learners, toys that are easy to operate are best to use. However, when your goals is to set a stage for interaction, you need to give an opportunity for your children to have a toy that he can’t solve on his own. People toys, bubbles, balloons, pinwheels and spinning tops are very fun but difficult to operate. This will enable your children to ask help. This can help them to improve on their requesting skills.
- SENSORY/CREATIVE TOYS
Sand, water, cotton balls, beans, clay, slime and pasta – some children like to play these toys as it gives them a lot of sensory stimulation. It has different textures that the children can squeeze, scoop and pour. This can help in improving your children’s eye-hand coordination and some functional skills such as feeding.
- PRETEND PLAY TOYS
The best toys for early pretend play are usually ones that resemble real objects such as telephone, toy cars, trains, trucks, dolls, dolls’ clothes, puppets and house realistic toys such as kitchen toys and costumes. All these can help to enhance the children’s imagination and communication skills. They can create their own story-line and this will help with the children’s flow of play and sequencing of events.
Regardless of how expensive or how cheap the toys are, or how big or small these are, or whether it’s a Yakult bottle or a high-tech robot, play will always be more fun and meaningful if we do it with them. Choosing a toy is not as hard as we can imagine. As long as it is safe and as long as it makes our children happy, then play will be beneficial to our children.