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Educational Toys Help Kids Develop Life Skills
Educational toys and life skills
Educational toys not only promote developmental skills in children. They also help children acquire and improve essential life skills. Creativity, self-confidence, independence, responsibility and integrity can all be cultivated through the use of carefully selected educational toys.
A hallmark of educational toys is how well they support creative and open-ended play. A wooden food tray can inspire a child to spend an entire afternoon running a pretend restaurant or planting and harvesting crops on a pretend farm. A set of blocks can be transformed into a tower, a road system, a fortress, a car, or even different animals. And the possibilities for a pound of modeling clay are endless! The more time a child spends exploring all the different things a toy can become, the more developed the child’s imagination skills will be. This fosters an open mind to new possibilities that will help the child think of creative and innovative solutions to any challenge he or she faces as an adult.
One way to build self-confidence is through play that encourages a child to assert themselves. Singing, performing and acting in front of an audience all help children assert themselves both in the planning stage and during an actual performance. Children also learn to assert themselves by acting out scenarios or performing informally with peers. Open-ended toys such as musical instruments and dress-up clothes and props encourage this type of play.
Taking risks that pay off will also build a child’s self-confidence. Susan G. Solomon, author of America’s Playgrounds: Revitalizing Community Space, notes that “Kids need a chance to take acceptable risks, to learn cause and effect, to make choices and see consequences. If they don’t learn to take risks, we’re going to lose a generation of entrepreneurs and scientists.”
In order to take such risks, children need to develop the power of risk assessment and decision-making, so that they can be sure that the risks they plan to take are, in fact, acceptable. The act of riding and controlling large toys such as bicycles requires children to calculate physical risks. The logic required to play some strategy-based board games such as Monopoly, chess, and checkers involves assessing risk, such as whether or not to invest in a property or risk a portion for a larger future gain. .
To improve their ability to calculate risk, children must also develop their decision-making skills. Science and engineering kits can help by asking children to use observations and instructions to make decisions about how to run an experiment or build a working machine. Puzzles and building sets can also improve this skill.
In general, allowing children to direct their own play and be responsible for what they need to do in their free time helps them become more self-sufficient and resilient. In particular, some educational toys promote skills such as problem solving, taking charge of a situation and leadership.
One aspect of being independent is being able to solve a problem on your own. Working with a construction toy system allows a child to explore different solutions to the challenge of building different items. The logical challenges you face on your own, such as figuring out how to use a set of pattern blocks to repeat some complicated pattern, also build problem-solving skills.
Another aspect of being independent is taking charge of a situation. This can be as simple as giving your child two choices of toys and giving the child the autonomy to make his/her own decision about which one to play with. Beyond that, you can also encourage the development of independence by letting your child direct what roles you will take when playing with your child or letting your child be in charge of how a toy will be played. Providing your child with open play sets, such as farms, fire and police stations, pirate ships, tree houses and train stations, creates a situation where your child can control which scenarios he will act out that day.
A third aspect of being independent is taking on a leadership role. While unit blocks and shared building sets with large hollow wooden blocks, large foam blocks, or sturdy cardboard blocks can foster cooperative skills, they can also provide opportunities for a child to lead others in a way positive to build a specific construction that child has. in mind. Educational toys can also help children become self-motivated and self-directed so that they can push themselves to achieve without always relying on external support and affirmation.
To become good citizens, all children must develop a sense of personal, social and environmental responsibility. In general, trusting children to take good care of their toys, play nicely with them, and return them to their place when play is done can begin to foster a sense of responsibility. At the most basic level, a chart like Melissa and Doug’s Magnetic Responsibility Chart can help a child keep track of his or her personal obligations. Beyond that, specific toys can develop other types of liability.
When a child is provided with an open-ended toy, such as a building set that must be assembled by the child, he or she will take personal responsibility for following the instructions and making sure the toy is put together correctly. This will train the child to take a sense of pride and personal responsibility in whatever work he or she is expected to do. And, when a child cares for a doll or pretends to be a pet, he or she also develops a sense of personal responsibility for fulfilling his or her obligations to someone else.
Role-playing obligations can be extended to creating a sense of responsibility to society. When a child pretends that he or she is a construction worker or a doctor, that child is practicing assuming adult responsibilities that must be met if people are to live together in communities. Such role play socializes the child and allows him to get used to the idea of becoming a contributing member of such a community once he grows up.
Finally, science kits that encourage children to study the earth can educate children about why people should care about animals, the earth, resources, and so on. Plus, toys that are made from sustainable materials (such as Plan Toys) or bioplastics (such as Green Toys), or designed to use recycled materials (such as Uberstix Scavenger sets), encourage a respect for conservation of natural resources. This in turn leads to a developed sense of responsibility to care for the environment.
Educational toys can also help children develop integrity. Using costumes and props in role-play situations, such as customer and server, can help children practice manners and manners. Acting out scenarios such as caring for an injured doll or animal can foster compassion and empathy. And playing competitive games fairly, taking turns and following the rules, develops a child’s appreciation of right and wrong.
The educational benefit of toys for child development cannot be underestimated. Childhood’s pursuit of play and discovery continues into adulthood. Children develop fascination with their environment by playing with toys and continue to take up hobbies late into adulthood.
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