It is a common complaint among parents that they cannot keep their child still enough to learn anything, but all the while, the child can play for hours on end. Maybe the reason to this quandary is the sole fact that children were designed to learn this way. This one of the many reasons, that the typical school type setting is not an option for our family. Please don't get me wrong, I do make my children sit still, and I developing their ability to focus is very important to me. I just choose to go about it an entirely different way. In this post, I would like to explain why I like educational toys.
This may surprise you but the educational toys I will talk about in this post are non battery toys. Gasp, I know this is a shocker, but in all reality, the hyped up, battery operated "educational" toys do nothing to educate your child. The toy can do a lot of cool things, but it teaches your child nothing in return. Educational toys are ones that engage a child and teach vital life skills at the same time. Some very common educational toys are blocks, balls, and legos. These all teach fine motor, gross motor, hand/ eye coordination, and cause and effect skills.
When looking for educational toys the best question to ask is, What can my child do with this toy? The next question I ask is, What skills can he develop while playing with this toy? If you have good answers to the first two questions, you have an educational toy.
The top reason why I refuse to purchase battery operated toys for my children is the sole fact that it eliminates the use of imagination and destroys their ability to focus without being entertained. When your child has a car that makes makes noises and lights up, they don't have to engage their mind/ imagination to play with it. When these type of battery operated toys are the mean of your child's play, they become accustomed to the lights and noise, and cannot engage without it. They have no idea what to do with normal non battery toys, and if they do play with them, it only holds their focus for several minutes.
The best place to buy educational stores is online or at specialty toy stores, and I do not mean Toys R Us. Yes, they are a little more expensive in the beginning, but they are durable and will last through all of your children. This also means that you don't need to have as many of them, so goodbye to the overstuffed toy boxes. I really like Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys. These are old favorites and easy to find at garage sales. I got a huge bucket of Lincon Logs for $2. Other favorites I have are: magformers, geomags, zoomtools, and reptangles. I also like these pattern blocks and corresponding pattern cards. One website that I found that has many of these toys is called Fat Brain Toys.
Because most of the toys listed above have lots of pieces, there are very strict rules about toys in our house. Although, not typical, I like to think that these rules taught from a very young age will help develop organizational skills. All of our toys are stored in either shoe boxes and put in the closet or in a cube shelf, like this one from Ikea. This helps keep everything together and makes clean up easy. Our toy rule is that only one box is allowed out per child, and before they have the freedom to play with another box, the first box must be put away. This works very well if it is strictly enforced in the beginning. When I did a lot of babysitting, they would have to check out the toys by signing out the toys played with and would have to sign back in before another toy was taken out. If this rule was broke, they lost the freedom to play with the toys. This system worked very well for me, and it kept the house clean.
These are the reasons why I love educational toys and how we handle them. What are some of your favorite educational toys?