Though you may think that toys are just something fun for kids to do, they are actually valuable learning tools that can aid development. Of course, they ARE fun which is why kids love them. That makes them the best educational tool in the world. They beat books, lessons, assignments, worksheets or any of the more traditional learning tools that we tend to think of. Here are 5 ways that toys help children learn.
•They cultivate imagination. When your child plays dress up or builds a castle out of blocks, they are being creative free thinkers. Imagination is so important to child development. It is a sign of flexibility in thinking and can lead to talents in fields like writing, visual art, engineering and more. You should never underestimate the importance of playing pretend.
•They help children to hone fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are things like writing, holding scissors or painting with a paintbrush. Toys like bead mazes or puzzles encourage those types of skills. Skills like these will serve them into adulthood as they learn to type on a computer, hammer a nail, take notes in school or tie their shoes.
•They encourage cultural and social awareness. The more that children are encouraged to play with toys in ways that cultivate social engagement, the better. Toys that will encourage positive social behavior include board games, building sets, balls and sports sets and, really, anything that they can share and enjoy with others. In addition, children can become more culturally aware with toys. Many toys limit children’s perceptions. For example, doll sets are almost always composed of a mother, father and one or two children. This represents only a small fraction of American families. You might encourage them to play “family” with a structure that is different from the stereotype. You can do this by supplying them with toys that are varied and making sure that they have more than one “mommy” doll, for example.
Examples of varied family structures might include: Multicultural families, families with two moms or two dads, single parents, or families with only children, or adopted children. Traditional doll sets impose limitations on a child’s imagination, which can have lasting effects. Some toys can help you remove these restrictions and opens their eyes to a world of possibilities.
•They foster spatial skills. Spatial skills are the skills that allow you to estimate how far your car is from the curb when parking or whether a table will fit in your kitchen nook. You hardly even think about how often you use these skills because they have become automatic. Toys like blocks and puzzles will help children to become more adept with their spatial skills.
•They teach problem solving. Many toys challenge children to problem solve. Puzzles, books with riddles, mazes, interlocking blocks and science sets all help children to become problem solvers. Problem solving is a skill that will help a child in almost everything that they do from now until adulthood.
Children are like sponges. They are learning every single minute. From the moment that they wake up until the moment they go to bed they are soaking up information and knowledge. Their play is not just mindless fun. It is highly educational and full of opportunities to learn new skills. Any job that they choose or life path that they take will require basic skills like problem solving, creativity, fine and gross motor skills as well as spatial skills. A painter needs creativity, fine motor skills and spatial skills with every stroke. An engineer uses problem solving, fine motor skills, spatial skills and (likely) imagination each day. The more that children are allowed to explore and play, the better equipped they will be for adulthood.