Walking into a toy store today, the options are endless. Legos, dolls, cars, board games… Where do you start? How do you choose toys that are right for your child? Which will engage your child’s interest for more than a few days, or weeks?
A child’s work is play and toys are their tools. Toys should be exciting and engaging enough to hold your child’s attention without being overstimulating.
Start with the basics. Blocks, Lego, cars/trucks, wooden train tracks, play kitchen and food, animals, dollhouses, etc. The list could go on. These toys are “open-ended” in the sense that your child can play with them in many ways. These can spark your child’s imagination and build language, problem-solving skills, and their ability to sequence.
Believe it or not, less is more. Children can easily get overwhelmed with too many toys. They spend their time moving quickly from one toy to another, which can limit their play (and language) opportunities. Sometimes, the best toys are not toys at all. Some of the most memorable interactions can come from building forts from pillows and blankets, making music with pots and pans or creating rocket ships from cardboard boxes.
Forget the batteries. I know what you’re thinking, impossible. So many toys have music, lights, and motorized options to them. As exciting and fun as they can be, they can limit opportunities for language. The more the toy does, the less your child has to do. The best toys require the most action from your child. The more they have to use their mind and body to make something happen, the more they will learn. The toy is great on its own. You don’t need it to make a noise when you can make them on your own!
Pick toys that you will enjoy playing with, and then take time to play with your child. You’ll learn more about how your child thinks and feels by getting on the floor and playing with them. These memories will last a lifetime. Remember, you are the best “toy” your child could ever have.
WRITTEN BY AVERY SCHICK, SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST WITH WILDFLOWERS