I’ve been to many a friend’s home, where we moms get together and chat while our kids play. One topic that comes up often is a somewhat tortured deliberation on which toys are best for our kids. Of course, in my book, the toys that your children actually play with are the best ones. No matter how fancy and expensive a toy is, if it doesn’t hold your child’s interest, it means you just wasted your money. Still, I think there’s value in certain types of toys. Since my husband is a construction manager, many of our children’s toys are construction-centered, and I’ve found that all kids, no matter what gender or age, tend to be attracted to these types of toys. Here’s what I’ve noticed:
1. Young kids are just starting to understand the world of cause-and-effect. At around two or three years of age, young kids are just beginning to understand that for every action, there’s usually a consequence or reaction. In my opinion, construction toys further cement this understanding of the world. For example, using blocks, kids begin to understand that if you stack them too high, they’ll fall. Understand the world of cause-and-effect is absolutely essential as young kids begin to explore the environment around them.
2. Construction toys promote creative problem-solving, social skills, and math skills.
According to this article, construction-based toys have tons of cognitive benefits. They encourage imaginative play, which in turn develops their ability to solve problems creatively. Playing with these toys with other children, kids begin to develop instrumental social skills. Of course, the math component is also a big one. A study listed in the article just cited demonstrated that kids who played in a complex way with blocks usually fared better in math classes later in life.
3.Construction toys are usually simpler and more affordable.
What I love most about construction-based toys is that they are simple and usually pretty cheap. Many parents think that they need to get their children the most expensive toys with all the bells and whistles, or the latest gadgets, to keep their kids’ brains stimulated. To be honest, these pricey toys are mostly just marketing, and it’s usually the simpler toys that encourage more creativity. Think Legos, Erector sets, anything with blocks, and other classics.
Next time you go to the toy store and are feeling overwhelmed by all the choices you have, block all that noise out. Just keep in mind that the simpler your toys are, the more likely it is that your kids will actually stay engaged when they let their imagination run wild. Good luck!
Image courtesy of AngryGlock via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.