These days the shops are filled with an array of toys. Anything from child-oriented laptops to brightly coloured dolls and everything in between. There are gadgets, electronic toys and, if you search hard enough, you will find the traditional blocks, shape sorters and stacking cups. With so much to choose from parents are often confused with regards to the best toy choices for their toddlers.
Experts generally consider free play and imagination to form the building blocks for children’s development. As such, it is recommended that the majority of the toys we buy for our children should encourage this open ended play, communication and imagination. Further encouragement for this has been found in studies that show that, when playing with electronics as opposed to traditional toys, there are fewer back-and-forth conversations between kids and parents, children communicate less, and parents engage in fewer responses with their child.
Some of the essentials that parents can look at buying for their toddlers are art supplies, balls, construction toys, dolls, blocks, puppets, dressups, and cars. These encourage free play and the use of imagination. The games played with the toys are open-ended and facilitate conversation between those playing them.
Electronic toys on the other hand do not encourage the child to use her own imagination or foster communication. The games are usually goal driven and close ended. This is not to say that electronic games don’t have their place. Every parent who owns an iPad or Tab will know the relief that such an item can bring on a long journey in the car, or at a restaurant when there is nothing else to entertain the little one. Some of the games are educational and can certainly assist in acquisition of knowledge. However, don’t be fooled – an electronic puzzle will never be able to replace the real thing.