By providing your child with fun, educational opportunities you will allow their play time to turn into a learning experience. Educational books, games and toys should match your child’s age and stage of development. While most products available are marked with a recommended age, you will need to determine if your child is ready for a specific activity or item based on his or her own skill level (Of course, safety first! Always be sure a toy you give your child is safe for the age child you are providing it for.) In general, books are available at all age levels and should be purchased based on your child’s reading level. Following are the recommended educational games and toys for children at multiple stages:
Toddlers (ages 1 – 2)
- Toddlers should have a chance to explore music and art with musical toys that encourage singing and dancing as well as crayons, finger paints and Play-Doh to create masterpieces.
- Age appropriate puzzles with big pieces, simple matching, durability and ease of handling are the best type for your toddler.
- LEGOs and Lincoln Logs or other construction toys give your child hands-on experience with basic math concepts and assist in fine-tuning his or her motor skills.
- Bilingual toys can give your toddler a head start at learning another language. There are many plush dolls and other handheld toys that can provide for this educational experience.
Preschool and Kindergarten (ages 3 – 5)
- Find educational toys and electronic games that can help your child work on numbers and letters. Educational video games make lessons fun and exciting while kids are learning.
- Introduce your child to science with child-sized cameras, magnets, and binoculars. Buy a bug catcher or ant farm to introduce them to the wonders of nature.
- Educational floor puzzles provide an opportunity for young children to develop problem-solving skills while learning about the alphabet, animals or the solar system.
- Pretend play areas such as playhouses or dollhouses help to promote early social skills.
Grade School (ages 6 – 12)
Provide more complex toys and games for children in this age group that can assist in reinforcing reading, writing and arithmetic.
- Multiple computers and computer games allow children to become more computer-savvy than their parents ever will be. By utilizing these skills kids can quickly access information and the collective knowledge of the Internet for their own betterment. Parents should monitor closely the sites and games children are visiting on the computer.
- Toy cash registers, spelling games and other electronic quiz games are a great way to help incorporate math and verbal skills into playtime.
- Encourage your child to further discover the fun side of science with kits that fine-tune motor skills such as chemistry sets and model airplanes. Microscopes and telescopes also provide a means for your child to study the world around him or her.
- Map games and globes give your child an opportunity to learn geography.
- Jewelry and bead kits or other art activity kits also promote fine-motor skills while allowing your child to be creative.
Nothing can replace the loving assistance of a parent when it comes to your child’s development; however, through the use of educational books, games and toys, both adults and children can find themselves enjoying the experiences of learning.