Children need toys just as adults needs tools for their particular jobs because play is often described as the work of children. Even children who lack commercially produced toys will find playthings such as fingers and toes, pots and pans, and hills and trees.
The national average for the number of toys a child receives during the holiday season is about 12. Most children are satisfied with 3 or 4 new toys. If a child receives too many new toys at once, he may become overwhelmed in deciding what toy to play with.
To eliminate some of the frustrations of too many toys, select toys with the child’s needs and interests in mind. A well-balanced selection of toys is needed for the child’s total development. The selection might include:
· Toys for physical development like push and pull toys for younger children and wagons, sleds, and swings for older children.
· Toys to develop sensory skills through play with a variety of materials. Water, sand, pots and pans are all possible examples.
Anything that can be SAFELY touched, tasted, smelled, looked at, or listened to would be helpful in developing sensory skills.
· Toys for make-believe and developing social skills might include dolls, play cars, trucks, and accompanying play sets. These toys don’t need to be expensive. Many simple household items like clothing or discarded kitchen materials make great play “props.” Children can use their imaginations and empty boxes become many interesting playthings.
· Books and puzzles are also considered toys and should be readily available to children. Plain paper and crayons can be helpful in developing a child’s creative skills.
The simpler the toy the better, a toy should be versatile and flexible for a variety of uses. Toys need adult supervision, but should need little, if any, adult instruction. Toys should not be purchased with the idea of allowing the child to “grow into” the toy.
Follow the age guidelines found on the toy packages and labels. These guidelines take into consideration a child’s age, physical size, skill level, and safety concerns. Many toys designed for older children may not be safe for infants and toddlers. These toys may have small pieces which can be swallowed or mechanisms too complicated for the young child.
There is no way to insure that every toy purchased will be the best toy. Be considerate of the child’s age, interests and current developmental needs and you will come closer to selecting a toy which is the best.
The publication, Nurturing Children’s Talents (GH6127) provides a list of activity ideas for children based on their special interests.
Source: Leanne Spengler, Human Development Specialist, Pike CountyUniversity of Missouri Extension