Research shows that educational toys are an important part of a child’s development. Educational toys and games contribute to good intellectual, social and motor development – they can help develop problem solving skills, teach about conflict resolution and how cause and effect work. They also teach children about sharing, help develop their fine and gross motor skills and nurture their creativity and imagination.
As we know, playing is by far the most natural form of learning. Children love to explore and learn new things from a very early age. Giving a child a sense of their own abilities helps to build self-worth, and an important aspect of play is children’s role in, and control over, the experience. By this, I mean their initiative, decision-making and self-choice in play. Researchers agree that there are key characteristics of play – it should be meaningful, joyful, actively engaging and socially interactive. And this is where good educational toys and games come in.
There are loads of educational and developmental benefits to threading/lacing beads and this set from Melissa and Doug has a whole host of them! Lacing beads can help to strengthen the small muscles in children’s hands as they grasp different sized beads. Reaching for a bead, picking it up, and then rotating it to thread all use different hand movements.
The benefit of developing fine motor skills through threading beads is that it uses similar hand movements to gripping a large pencil. Activities like this help to increase concentration as children have to choose and sort beads, arrange them into patterns, and create their project – some excellent creative stimulation too! Beading also prepares children for maths by counting beads and getting used to lengths and numbers.
It's not just physical benefits that children will get from playing with sets such as this Big Yellow Crane. Playing with vehicles like this crane helps them get to grips with important new concepts: go and stop; fast and slow; up and down; left and right.
Their imagination can soar as they can mimic what they see in the real world – who doesn’t see roadworks everywhere! It appears that vehicle play also seems to improve language skills. Whether this is because children like to narrate their games and give the figures voices and mannerisms, or whether we are more inclined as parents to ask questions about their games, I don’t know but it can’t be a bad thing!
I have written before about the benefits of boardgames for all ages. I love this Little Circuit game from Djeco because it is aimed specifically at toddlers and takes into account their variable attention span with simple rules and short game time. The counters are super cute and the die is numberless so everyone can read it! It is quite fun to introduce a new game to children and, instead of explaining the rules, ask them how they think it should be played. Sometimes you can create a whole new game!
It is so important that whatever educational toys you get for your child are simple, fun and safe. Each child has their own preference – just because something is educational, your child won’t benefit from playing with it if they don’t truly enjoy it. Making their education fun can help them to develop a positive attitude towards learning and you can have an equally fun time watching them learn through some excellent play!
by Allie White, educational consultant to BrightMinds
As a parent and former-teacher, Allie has a hands-on approach to home learning, believing that the best learning is done together in a relaxed environment.
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