Toys and education may sound like two different poles, while the former is a means of fun and entertainment, the latter is important for a child’s future development. When we blend them together, we get educational toys that are fun, engaging, and at the same time, they help your child learn and develop problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, motor skills and so on.
So, what makes a toy educational?
A toy becomes an educational tool when it provides some kind of learning experience for the child as they play with it. At this age, the one thing your little one loves to do the most is play, and educational toys are the best way to help them get familiar with the world around them.
These toys are thoughtfully created to help your child develop new skills and learn new things without making it boring.
There are educational toys for specific age groups to help toddlers with their physical, emotional and social development as they enter different stages in growth. Toy manufacturing companies like Lego, Fisher-Price and VTech offer educational toys that strike a perfect balance of play and education to keep your child happy and at the same time, help them learn new things.
These toys have bright and colorful patterns along with good music to make it a fun experience for children as they are introduced to alphabet letters, colors, shapes, animals and so on. They learn to express their feeling with gestures and words.
The make-believe, pretend-play and blocks develop the imagination skills of your child as they can use these toys to create different forms and act out different characters.
Puzzles, blocks and cups help children develop problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. These toys encourage the child to be aware of things around him and use their imagination as they play.
Toddlers spend a large part of their time playing, and the early years are the most formative when they learn a lot of things. As a parent, you need to understand what makes a toy educational and carefully select playthings instead of being impulsive.
Educational toys like toy phones, toy laptops and play dough will attract your children and create a positive learning environment for them.
There are some types of educational toys that your child cannot play with by themselves and they need your help. Puppets, for example, make a fun, engaging and educational toy but you cannot expect a toddler to put on a puppet show all by themselves.
As a parent, you need to get involved with your child to show them how to play with hand puppets, and your child will have hours of fun filled with joy and laughter.
Make the puppet game funny and a learning experience by asking questions to your toddler and let them use their imagination to answer you. As the child grows older, you can take the role of an audience and watch your child put on a show.
Checklist for an educational toy
Here’s a checklist that will make it easier for you to determine whether or not a toy is educational. An age-appropriate education toy should be a “yes” to the following:
- Does the toy stimulate the senses? Does it have bright colors, sounds, lights, and movements?
- Does the toy offer a challenge that is positive in nature, without irritating or frustrating your child?
- Is it a fun experience? Is it rewarding?
- Does the toy allow your child to express with his body?
- Can the toy be played in different ways or made into different formations? Is it open ended?
- Will the toy suit your toddler’s style and ability?
- Can the toy be used for different types of play?
- Is it possible to adjust the volume, speed and level of difficulty for the toy?
- Can the toy be played with a friend(s)? Does it help in developing social skills?
- Is the toy perfect for your child’s age and development stage?
- Is the toy safe and durable for your child?
There’s no one particular thing that can explain what make a toy educational. You need to evaluate the toy based on your child’s age and ensure that it is capable of providing a learning experience. Toys don’t have to be all play or strictly educational.
Only play toys will not bring any value to your child and strictly educational playthings will make their playtime boring. So, the best bet is to choose toys that offer the perfect blend of both fun and educational.