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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Gone are the days of simple toys that provided fun for just five minutes before the child would get bored and move on. Nowadays, toys can keep kids engaged for hours. Smart parenting however means that you buy your kids toys that not only allow the child to have fun but also teach them a skill during the playing process. It is easy to find toys appropriate for all age groups that sharpen cognitive and motor skills. Here is a list of four types of toys that can help make your kids smarter.

1. Building Blocks and Puzzles
Building blocks can significantly improve your child’s motor and cognitive skills. Toddlers will learn advanced motor skills by holding and putting the blocks together, and older children will learn about construction and become more creative. The various shapes and colors in building blocks also allows the child to recognize the differences in color and also sharpens hand-eye coordination. Problem solving skills are enhanced when they start building larger structures with limited resources (blocks).

Puzzles of different kinds can make kids smarter as they allow the child to work out various solutions and strategies in their head. You can find puzzles for all age groups today, starting with those that have very large pieces, for toddlers, to puzzles with 1000+ plus pieces for teenagers.

2. Board Games
Board games are not only fun for the whole family, but can help teach your child valuable life skills. From negotiation to team work, a good board game can teach something to children of all ages. There are traditional games like scrabble and chess, which help improve logical thinking and vocabulary, and newer games like Pictionary which improve creative skills and team work. Depending on the age group your child is in, you can buy all kinds of board games and encourage your child to play with them by making a family event around it.

3. Books
It is always a good idea to encourage children to read. Reading improves creativity, vocabulary, and also encourages children to learn about the world around them. It is best to start them off when they are very young, and toddlers love reading picture books with simple vocabulary. While you will initially be reading the book to them, they will soon learn the various words and start reading along with you. Older children can be encouraged to read fiction – along the lines of Harry Potter – but also biographies and newspapers.

4. Arts & Crafts
Creativity can be allowed to let loose when you buy your child their first crayon or coloring set. You can get these for various age groups, and children as young as toddlers love the idea of hand painting. Coloring books, craft sheets, and markers can keep any child busy for hours. Encourage them to make pictures and scenes that excite them, and this will encourage them to think outside the box.

Always buy age appropriate toys for your children to ensure a fun-filled time along with an educational experience.

Mike is a parent of 2, who is deeply involved in his children’s education. From choosing the right toys to finding educational outdoor activities, Mike has written numerous articles on the topic.