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What to Consider When Choosing a Toy?

December 5, 2013 | Guylaine Bergeron

With the Holidays or a child birthday, sometimes you may ask yourself: How do I go about choosing a good toy? The key is to look at a toy through a child’s eyes! Easier said than done…

The three criteria for selecting a toy

If your inner child is in a deep slumber, here are some guidelines for choosing a toy or a game:

1. The context– It makes a lot of sense to consider the environment or the physical space (bedroom, playroom, backyard, etc.) where the child will play and how it will be used. Are the rules simple? Can the child play by him/herself? Would you prefer a game that involves mom and dad?

2. The child– While age is a good marker, factors like the child’s skills, personality, needs and desires also come into play. The age range on the box is one thing, but each child is different. Observe your children and you’ll see what appeals to them.

3. The toy– Consider the toy’s educational and aesthetic value. Is it safe? Will it benefit the child’s development? Often, the way to play with a toy can evolve as the child grows older. The more a toy engages the child’s imagination (for example, a construction set or an imitative game), the more it will evolve along with the child.

Whatever the answer to these questions, remember that kids scan be put off when offered a toy that is beyond their abilities. Take it away and give it back in a few weeks. They will value it all the more. A well-chosen toy is an investment; it is a source of great pleasure and helps the child’s development. A good toy is one that grows along with the child!

“If 90% of the toy comes from the child and 10% from the toy, then it’s a good toy.”

– Fitzhugh Dodson, psychologist and author of the bestselling Your Child: Birth to Age 6

What’s inside the toy box?

It is important for a toy collection to be varied so that the child’s cognitive, emotional, social and motor skills are stimulated and his or her overall growth is nurtured. Use the material to stimulate the child’s senses and to unleash his or her creativity (Bloco and Bristle Blocks).

We frequently offer our children the types of toys they’re particularly fond of but in doing so, we often miss out on some interesting new discoveries. Ask your children questions; what do they like to play with at the day-care centre, at school, with their friends? You might be surprised. You may be dealing with an engineer in the making, or a future whiz!

And what about educational games?

Pedagogical should not be confused with educational. If not all games are pedagogical purpose, they mostly all have an educational one. It is useful to consider the child’s overall development and not only the cognitive aspects. Children learn to read, write and count soon enough, but they must also learn to interact with others, develop their emotional intelligence, hone their fine and gross motor skills, and so on (Torreta and Straws & Connectors Structure pack). A toy that calls upon different skills is in itself an educational game.

Now, look at the world through the eyes and heart of your inner child for a moment. And happy shopping!

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