Friday, August 18, 2006

Toys that Teach - Choosing right toy for Child.

Choosing the right toy isn’t child’s play. Learn how it can impact the growth of your kid.

Toys are important right from the first month. The tiny one can see and hear, so although he can’t hold or handle toys he is thrilled looking and listening to them. Anything colorful hung over the cot, or something that rattles will appeal to him. However, at this stage, the baby’s best ‘toys’ are the people around him and the variety of faces, sounds, sensations, which come with being picked up and held, are very stimulating to the child.

Are toys a substitute for personal involvement?

No, cuddling, talking, making sounds and playing peek-a-boo is far more vital to a child than any toy. But it is true that toys help develop a baby’s natural skills, hand – eye coordination and imagination.

Are some toys more educational than others?

Although all toys can be described as ‘educational’, to make the most of a child’s learning potential, the toys must be picked with an eye on his age. As a child grows, he needs a different set of challenges and so toys must be with the child’s abilities in mind.

When you step into a toy store, think of the ‘function’ of the toy for your child. The more versatile the better, since it can have a longer life than toys with just one function. Check out bricks, detachable pieces, constructions sets, see-and-make kits. Look for toys that have different functions for different age groups. In this way the toys can reappear later when the child reaches that stage.

Good examples of this are stacking kits, take apart and rebuild toys such as trucks, trailers or trains. Initially young babies enjoy the sound and sight of these. As they grow they begin to suck and finger them. When they’re about two years they begin putting the parts together.

Toys that don’t cost you anything
Toys don’t have to be only bought from the store. If you have a good sense of imagination, you could find ‘joys’ even at home, plastic spoons, cardboard boxes, empty plastic boxes or even your horlicks packs can become safe toys.
Check out for sharp edges, wires rods and stickers that can be peeled off easily. Look for small parts that a child could remove with his fingers or teeth because he could possible swallow pieces. Chiming metallic pieces must have a protective causing safety can be bought from reputed labels.

And remember to keep an eye on a little one when an older child is playing with toys. Since these toys could have detachable parts which the young one may swallow.

Store toys in a proper bag or box and clean them regularly. Wash them and check the bags regularly for wear and tear.

Choosing the toys
Upto 6 months
Tiny babies are interested in colorful toys. Especially ones that make sounds. The rattle is what comes to our mind. But it isn’t a good idea to leave a rattle in a child’s hands, as children under five months do not have proper control of their hands and could knock the rattle in the face.

Brightly colored pieces hung over the cot or pram draws his attention. Give the child a teddy or a smiling rag doll. Soon the baby will wave hands in excitement whenever he sees these toys. He will even try to reach them. Variety is the name of the games. Even babies get bored by the same rattle.

Don’t forget to play with your child. Talk to him, he loves to listen to you voice. Join in and enjoy his gurgles.

6-12 months
By now, babies begin to experience, explore and communicate. Babies of this age reach out to objects, suck them, poke their fingers in holes and look inside and underneath.

The now-you-see it now-you-don’t games thrill babies of this age. Wooden toys, with wheels, monkeys that flip over, rolling objects that jingle, are ideal toys. They even enjoy seeing books, clearing and sometimes even chewing them. Watch out for the first words that come up.

1-2 years
The child will now fast outgrow his toys. So look for things which have a longer life. Toys which have pieces to be fit into one another. He can take apart things, though he can’t put them together. Dolls and teddies will be cuddled, given food and put to sleep. Try giving a notebook and felt pen, to scribble. Large wooden trucks pulled by a string are popular with this age group.

2-3 years
Now, he can sit and concentrate for longer periods. Jigsaw puzzles and construction toys are appropriate. He will begin to put things together. He starts to show increased interest in ‘pretend’ play, talking to dolls, playing mother, father, sister or teacher. Now you have to give, not just a doll, but a doll with companions and a home. Bat and ball can be tried. Cycles, swings and slides enthrall him. Girls would have the entire cooking range, toys with refrigerator, tables, chairs and brooms.

So choose the right toy and help you child develop natural skills, at a early age.

Toys that teach...
A> Buy toys to improve your child.
B> Toys that thrill are for children upto one year.
C> Look for ones that improve hand-eye co-ordination.
D> How about turning a money, horse or elephant?
E> Mathematics, memory, thinking and problem-solving can be enhanced by choosing the right toys.

Let’s remember
A> Toys don’t always have to be bought. The soap box, toothpaste cover with wheels or bournvita boxes made into homes can make great toys to play.
B> Toys can teach. Find toys that educate the child.
C> Its unsafe to let tiny tots play alone without supervision.
D> Toys can not substitute parents.

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