According to dictionary.com, a toy is an object, often a small representation of something familiar, as an animal or person, for children or others to play with It can also be defined as an object for a child to play with, typically a model or a miniature replica of something. The question many parents ask is how toys affect child development.
The place of toys in child development and education can never be overemphasized. The 21st-century kid is smart, hence the need to provide smart alternatives to aid child development. Understanding the neurological and psychological makeup of a child adds credence to the place of toys in child development.
Children are extremely fast learners and will readily learn from anything around them especially at their early ages. Every information is absorbed by the kid and connections are made in the brain to represent this new information. Children have the ability to take in large chunks of information, the number of connections in a young child’s brain (particularly babies and toddlers) is far greater than that of an adult. This explains why almost everything would make sense to a child when it makes no sense to an adult.
The developing brain, unlike an adult brain, takes in everything and form connections. Children go through sensitive learning periods, or ‘critical periods’, in which they are particularly sensitive to certain information. This period is very essential for their development. This is when children develop and learn certain skills. Even though, these skills which though can be learned later in life, but are best learned at their very early age. This early development has a lasting and significant impact on their cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. Realizing the potential and importance of this sensitive learning period, it becomes imperative to maximize the development of children’s cognitive skills at this early period.
The Place of Toys In Children Educational Development
There is, therefore, the need to expose children to more avenues of getting quality information by choosing toys that promote the development of cognitive skills. This is because they possess the innate ability to recognize and internalize what they see. On average, boys have a higher aptitude for spatial and mathematical skills, while girls are more talented in empathy and language-related skills. This is directly related to the dual and gendered nature of the toys we give male and female children respectively and explains how toys affect child development.
Many think that toys are mere objects to keep kids busy and while away their time. However, toys are more than just fun and games for kids. They provide avenues and opportunities for children to learn. Toys engage children senses, spark their imaginations and encourage them to interact with others. The avenues to learn through toys are unlimited. It is easier to learn shapes, colors, sound, texture, taste, locations, cities and even names through educational toys.