There is a tendency to associate learning with reading books, visiting a museum, working on educational activity books, or even doing homework. Toys are often associated with playing and relaxing and not with learning, primarily due to the reaction children have to toys in comparison to doing math workbooks, for example.
Although toy manufacturers usually create new toys to entertain children and making money, they are also responsible for developing the minds of our children. Toy manufacturers like Vtech, Fisher-Price and LeapFrog have taken childrens learning very seriously. (There are several other companies that are definitely worth mentioning as well. You can find the list on the left side of the page under: Brands.)
Through scientific research, toy manufacturers now realize that an infant’s mind can be stimulated from birth with different colors, sounds, textures, and patterns. These toys are found to begin stimulating the senses of infants to lead them on their path to learning through curiosity.
From the age of 0-12 months, learning is the most critical. This is when creativity and learning about the environment begin to take shape for children. Activity mobiles, play mats, toys with lights and sounds all begin to shape the way a child thinks.
As children enter the period between 1 and 3 years of age, learning begins to progress and more stimulation of the brain is needed to increase a child’s cognitive skills. Toys that are designed to increase stimulation also increase a toddler’s creativity and active learning.
The toys in this age group include such items as small kitchen sets to begin role-playing, building cups to learn about different sizes, matching games to teach similarities and differences, and puzzles to teach shapes and organization.
Toddlers enjoy hours of fun with toys without even knowing that they are learning more about their abilities and about the world around them. They begin identifying letters, shapes, and colors that further increase their learning in areas such as math and language.
The complexity of toys begins to increase in the pre-school age. Building blocks, magnets, and plastic building pieces, like Legos, further increase a child’s learning by encouraging their creativity and more involved communication skills.
Motor skills begin to increase in complexity and writing begins to take shape. Crayons and paper, as well as electronic writing tablets involve skills that stimulate the young brain of a child in increased communication, math, and reading.
The toys are still entertaining, but bring about more learning for children in their early grade school years. For example, building pieces get smaller, crayons get smaller, and puzzle pieces get smaller further developing creativity, motor skills, reading, writing, math, and science.
With the increase in technology, children at this age also enjoy electronic games and reading material, still thinking that they are playing and having fun. In reality, they are continuing to learn and develop their minds.
Learning never ends, and neither does the intention of toys. Yes, toys are for entertaining, but isn’t it nice knowing that they are also allowing your child to grow and develop so he or she can become a successful adult in an ever changing world?