How to Choose Toys at Every Stage of Development
Most of us can recall at least one toy from our childhood that left an enduring impression, and we can all agree that the toys we played with as kids partially shaped our lives. However, toys have roles beyond the memories they leave us with; the best toddler and kids’ toys engage children’s senses, spur their imaginations and encourage interaction with others, which are all crucial to proper kids development.
Children Ages 0-1
In the beginning of their development, children are curious, ready to learn and stimulated by almost everything they see. Sensory development is dominant during toddlerhood, and the best toddler toys include textures, sounds, colors and shapes to sharpen all the senses. Sensory toys can include, but aren’t limited to, the best toddler bath toys, bubbles, art supplies, sand toys and the toddler toy guitar. Different colors and sounds will stimulate a toddler’s developing vision and hearing, while open-ended toys like building blocks will build their fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination. These toys have been proven to develop toddlers’ sense of object permanence, which is the concept that objects still exist when they can’t be touched, smelled, heard, seen or otherwise sensed.
Children Ages 2-4
The following developmental stage, though different, is just as crucial to a child’s overall growth and it pertains mostly to physical growth and development. By the age of 2 or 3, a toddler can start using more complex toys such as indoor toddler climbing toys and the best push trikes for toddlers. However, toys that spurred learning and growth in the previous developmental stage can still offer benefits. As children’s motor skills continue to evolve, toys that help them name and identify shapes are important.
At this developmental stage, not only do kids recognize that toys have shapes, but that those shapes can be matched in other toys. Examples of learning toys in this category include removable wall stickers for girls’ bedrooms, interlocking blocks and shape sorters.
Children Ages 4-10
In the following years, when children start school, development and learning become more complex as they begin to understand and identify intricate details like languages, numbers or letters. Children’s development at this stage is primarily focused on intellectual and creative growth. Several types of educational toys can provide benefits at this stage, ranging from word games, the best battery powered ride on toys and puzzles to electronic games that provide mathematics instruction and visual stimulation. Play is important at this developmental stage, as experimentation and experience can supplement what kids learn in school. Giving them the chance to practice what they’ve learned while having fun will help them retain more knowledge from year to year.
While children work their way through various developmental stages that can be augmented by different kinds of toys, the main thing to remember is that all play and all toys are beneficial to a child’s growth. Children must experience the world to learn from it, and they will gain confidence as they play with toys and form relationships with other kids. Therefore, no matter which toy they choose as a favorite, their experiences with it will last a lifetime.