Tis the season for indulgence and extra pie, cyber shopping, caroling, and gift giving. So this week, we’re bringing you our holiday toy guide, 8 essential tips for holiday toy shopping for kids. Learn how to spot the best toys for language learning and development! These quick tips will make you the master of all playthings, and Santa’s favorite elf.
Go Old School
The traditional toys that we all knew as children are really the best ones to get the cognitive wheels turning. Children have to learn to manipulate objects within their environment and the basic toys are perfect for this. An upgraded set of blocks (perhaps your kiddo is ready for Legos?), a more difficult shape sorter or more complex puzzle, toys that require building and knowledge of use of size/matching concepts (putting together train tracks, maybe?). Forget getting mod[ern] and fancy, get traditional. Check out these Top 10 traditional toys for suggestions.
No Batteries Required
Batteries are a hassle regardless, so let’s simplify our children’s toys and look for the those that don’t require batteries. Sounds and lights can sometimes be distracting, and take away from the language rich environment that you could be providing for your child during play. When you have your child’s full attention, you are optimizing a learning moment.
More words, less letters
Children under 3 should be more focused on word learning and language development, rather than identifying, writing, and saying letters. Sure, we sing ABC’s for fun, but actual letter and number learning is more of a pre-school concept. So for the toddler, keep it simple and bombard them with strong vocabulary and language to enhance their development.
Mix up the gender specific toys
Girls play with dolls and boys play with cars, but why not switch it up? Research has been done since the 1970’s showing what these gender specific toys do for our children’s minds. The result, girls toys helped develop communication skills and emotional literacy, while boys toys encouraged more technical knowledge. Give your child the best of both worlds!
Books just don’t get old
Using pictures and book reading can always boost your child’s language and word learning. Choose books that have vivid vocabulary and opportunities for you to ask questions during reading. Take book reading to the next level, with new books this holiday season. Check out our recommended book list, or these Top 10 books for baby.
On a budget this holiday? Sometimes the best “toys” are not toys at all. Children can learn and use pretend play using real adult items. For instance, an old set of pots and pans for pretend cooking, or head to the dollar store for some cheaper cooking or cleaning items, or set up for a tea party. Basic stationary and office items like envelopes, post-its, and paper bags can also make for great craft projects, like puppets.
If you haven’t heard about toy rotation, get on board. It’s a great way to use and reuse old toys, or swap with friends to give your child a new experience and an opportunity to build a new set of skills.
Less is More
Remember, that when it comes to the tangibles, less is more. The best learning opportunities happen when you are present as a parent. So get outside, get playing, pretend, read, and spend quality time with your kiddo, that you’ll never regret.