At Mosaic Kindergarten, we believe that play is the main form of children’s learning and development. As a play-based school, it is important for us to create purposeful play opportunities during lesson time and children’s free time through games, toys and manipulatives they have in class. Being widely exposed to toys, it is important to choose the appropriate toy that supports the children’s mental and physical development.
To optimise development and learning, it is important to look out for the right educational toys provided for the appropriate age group and there are factors to consider when choosing toys for your child. I will be covering the 4 major questions to guide you along in choosing age appropriate toys for young children.
1. Is the toy safe to play with?
Regardless of the age group, the safety aspect should be considered when purchasing toys for young children. Ensuring that the manipulatives does not pose danger, such as sharp edges and small items. Especially for children age 0 – 3 years old, it is advised to look out for the packaging advices (refer to the sign below) on whether or not it has small parts that could possibly be choking hazards.
2. Is the toy age appropriate?
In the market, there are many toys out there being advertised and promoted to boost certain developmental areas for children. However, it is best to choose toys that are most situated for your child’s current needs. An example would be at ages 2-3 children would start identifying colours as well as shapes. Hence, purchasing and choosing shape sorter toys for such age group would be more suitable compared to providing them with Lego bricks. It is not only because there may be small parts, but also because Lego bricks require a higher-level thinking skill as well as a higher-level motor skill to fix the Lego pieces together. Hence, it is important to consider your child ability, what they can do at the moment before purchasing the toys.
In addition, there is no need to purchase too many toys at one time for your child.
3. Does it cater your child’s interest?
Every child is unique and has a mind of their own. They develop interest in certain aspects from a very young age. Examples could range from some may love cars, some, a particular cartoon character or some, music. Choosing toys that interest your child engages your child for a longer period of time. It also acts as a form of motivation for
them in achieving what they want when playing with a favourable toy. An example will be a child wanting to construct a complete rail way track with slopes for his favourite train. By having the motivation and intention to do so, this child will develop cognitive skills such as problem-solving skills to construct the tracks. In addition, include older siblings or yourself when your child faces an obstacle encourages your child to communicate with the more knowledgeable other about the problem, developing language and social skills.
4. Is the toy open ended?
During play, children are exposed to using their creativity when manipulating with the toys. Children are passively spending more time in front of screens, limiting the use of their creativity. Toys on the other hand sparks imagination and creativity. An example would be if you give your child a stuffed animal, they can turn their surrounding to an animal hospital, while he/she is a vet. Or, they may look at it as an animal in the zoo, caging it up with other materials they have at home. There are endless ideas and visions your child would have and you will find out how creative they can be by providing toys that are open ended and not a ‘one-way use’ only.
To conclude, there is no ‘right toy’ to search for when shopping for toys for you child. Every toy has a unique purpose and use. Choosing the ‘right toy’ involves considering the 4 major factors which are, safety, age and developmentally appropriate, your child’s interest and also whether the toy lends itself to more than one use. By checking off all the boxes, you will be sure to have your child not only love you more but no one will pester you when he/she has nothing to do. Because that toy would become her favourite ‘go-to’ toy!