Buying the Best Toy Is Not Child's Play
Facing a barrage of advertising and marketing ploys, adults often exhibit some rather childish behavior when looking for kids' toys. How many noticed the frenzy of the department store stampede for the must-have game or plaything?
But the challenge of finding the right toy can be simple to solve. Selecting the best toy is not about what the "hot" toy is, but what is best for the children. Matching his or her age, interests and abilities is paramount—as is recognizing the importance of play in everyone's life.
Playing with toys provides countless valuable experiences. Since play is the child's "work," what you provide to children is essential, and is not based on how much is spent. Children gain an understanding of community and the world as they play with a fire truck, globe or maps. They learn to act productively with other children and adults when they play games, take turns and share toys. They learn to get and hold the attention of others in a suitable way when they use crafts, puppets or a yo-yo.
They expand the ability to observe and concentrate using a construction set, kaleidoscope or puzzles. They practice other essential skills using toys important for learning such as dexterity, eye-hand coordination and small and large motor skills when they play with toys that involve twisting, turning, hammering, pulling apart and putting together.
Play helps children expand natural curiosity, whet his or her ability to solve problems and foster spontaneity. These are central components of mastering learning. Playing with the right toys assists development for all ages. Everyone, regardless of age, needs time to play, to engage in something new and fun, that reduces stress and provides varied, new activities. Playing is a serious business—especially in how it reinforces the bond between adult and child and helps children expand their social and communication skills.
Before buying a toy, game or other product, observe children at play. See what they enjoy doing, listen to what is desired and use your best judgment as to the value of the item. The time spent in creative play and exploration helps children learn, and it also helps their social development. Give children time to play checkers, construct a tower, assemble and fly a kite or play with a puppet to expand their experiences. You give them a great gift when they expand their play experiences—laughter, joy and, learning.
The mystery of finding the best toy is solved when you look for toys that offer the child balance between playthings that are active, creative and educational. Focus on the age, sex and interests of the child. The toy should fit the child and be worthy of their time and attention, and of your expenditure. Make sure the toy does not have any violent, sexist or other negative aspects, and that it helps expand self-esteem, understanding and cultural awareness.#
Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D. Director
of the Institute of Childhood Resource, writes "Dr. Toy," a
syndicated column, Dr. Toy's Guide (www.drtoy.com)
and is author of Smart Play/Smart Toys: How to Raise a
Child with a High P.Q.