Anyone who has been with children for long would know how important their toys are. Children adore their toys! Toys not only fill up their buckets of happiness but also fill in the gaps in learning (especially STEM toys). Toys are much like tools for children… they are means with which young children explore the world while keeping safe.

A right toy has the capacity to inspire, motivate and build motor skills as well as cognitive skills in children. Hence, it is obvious and necessary to select the right toys. Choosing a right toy, however, can be tricky. With the gamut of options available, it is easy to get confused. But a few tips can be can help you navigate among all that clutter to just the right toy.

1. Be clear about the toy’s purpose: When you go toy shopping, it is a good idea to have clear expectation from the toy. Be sure of the purpose you are buying the toy for. This will help you in getting swayed away from the various options, popular toys and the toys offering deals.


2. Follow the age guidelines: It is crucial to follow the age guidelines. You do not want a toy to over stimulate your child. Neither you would want it to be boring. The trick to finding the one that is developmentally right for your child is that the toy should work on the acquired skills while offering challenges. Many a times, lot of toys carry a label which show a wide age range. In such cases, try to stick towards the mean age and keep your child’s skill set in mind.

3. Choose sensorial toy: Try to pick a toy that enriches the senses but at the same time does not overdo it. For example picking a toy piano which besides providing the auditory input also displays an array of bright lights may not be a good choice. A child needs to understand the relationship between her pressing the buttons and sound generated. However in this case since the sounds are accompanied by bright lights, the child ends up over-stimulated and is unable to make the connections.


4. Look for good quality material: A good sturdy material like natural wood is often the best. Read the labels carefully to see if the toy is safe and confines to the security standards. With musical toys it always better to buy ones which are not very loud. This is specially true in case of toy phones.


5. Keep Interest’s of your Child in mind: When splurging on a toy, always honestly ask yourself if the toy you are buying is really according to your child’s interests or your interests. We, parents, relive our childhood through our children so it is really necessary that we honestly answer this question. If you are aiming at building a new skill set, pick a toy which offers the same skill set with a theme that interests your child.

6. Choose toys that promote Imagination: When offered a choice between a toy that is open-ended, non-electronic and an electronic toy with a range of functions, opt for the former one. Such toys leave a room for imagination and allow your child to manipulate it in different ways. Electronic toys lack that trait.


7. Sway away from gender-specific/Popular categories: What toy you should buy should be governed by your child’s interests and not her gender or the popularity of a toy. There is no harm in buying your son a kitchen set if he loves to help in the kitchen. Similarly, buy your daughter Spiderman is she loves him for his unique abilities. And remember, certain toys may be popular but not necessarily right for your child.

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How to Teach Problem Solving to Your Kids

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Originally posted at Kid pillar