Does your child have a room full of toys that are rarely played with? When it comes to children’s toys, the newest, most flashy toys are often the ones that are abandoned soonest. The following tips will help you choose toys that offer great value for the money.
1. Look for toys that can be used in many different ways. A set of building blocks can become a house, a castle, a rocket ship or a road for cars. Baby dolls can provide hours of imaginative play as children pretend being a parent, a teacher or a doctor. Train tracks can be configured many different ways as the trains go on different journeys and missions.
Toys that foster the imagination will be picked up time and time again as your child thinks of new ways to incorporate them into the various story-lines percolating inside their head.
2. Choose toys that are age-appropriate. Children become frustrated quickly with toys that are simply too far beyond their current abilities. Consider your child’s fine motor skills and cognitive abilities when choosing games, crafts and modeling kits. They won’t be able to enjoy them and it’s possible that they’ll inadvertently ruin them while trying to play, rendering them useless for future play.
3. It’s worth spending a bit extra to get higher quality toys. Not only will they last longer, but they are also more likely to work as they should without frustrating a child. Check online reviews to get other parent’s opinions on how the toys you are considering are constructed, the durability and the materials used.
4. Toys made out of wood and cloth are often more appealing and have a timeless quality. Unlike many plastic toys, these are usually not manufactured in conjunction with a marketing campaign for movies or television shows. Most wooden toys and cloth dolls are designed to have simple decorations and markings so that the child can fill in the rest with his or her imagination.
5. Look for toys that are gender neutral. Toy kitchens, tool sets, doll houses and more can all be found in neutral color schemes. Choose these over things that are blatantly pink for girls and blue for boys. Despite our best efforts, many children are quick to pick up the message that there are boy things and girl things and make them reluctant to play with the “wrong” things.
Neutral colored toys can help overcome these biases. This is particularly useful if you have more than one child and/or frequently invite other children over for play dates.
6. Choose toys that help your children express themselves. Part of the value of playtime is that is helps children explore their emotions in a safe way and find ways to express their emotions. For example, a child could use an easel and paints to express themselves through art, a band in a box to express themselves through music and a doll house to express themselves through acting out a story.
As parents, grandparents and caregivers, we can help the children in our lives develop emotionally, socially and academically by putting thought and care into the playthings that we provide them. Simple toys like blocks, dolls and wooden vehicles are timeless classics because they allow children the freedom to use their imagination instead of having the storyline dictated to them by the toy.
Jacob Maslow is a father of five pre-teenage children and a blogger for Todays Concept, a site that features the classic Melissa and Doug toys, proving that real toys do not need batteries.