The natural way for a child to learn is through play. For children play and learning go hand in hand; they will benefit from learning situations that are enjoyable. By using building blocks, working with jigsaws and threading toys, and matching colours, textures and shapes, children acquire essential skills, which enable them to learn to read, write and count.
Children will invent their own games and toys, but well-designed toys can provide stimuli for exploring and discovering new things. Toys need not be expensive or complicated. The best toys are ones that fascinate a child and to which he will return again and again. Often a household item will provide your child with the kind of playthings he needs to ensure future intellectual achievement, it is not necessary to buy even one educational toy.
Providing a stimulating environment
One of the ways to encourage your child’s development is to foster creative play with an inviting environment. The way you display your child’s toys to a large extent determines whether they will be played with or not. Toys that are piled high are not inviting, whereas toys arranged into little scenes, stimulate him to sometimes even make other creative arrangements
It helps if there are spaces to play in, particularly activity areas, like a painting table and somewhere he can splash about with water. An interesting environment should not only be confined just to indoors. If you have a garden, fill it with suitable equipment, like swing, a slide, and even a little play hill-all of which stimulates your child’s imagination
Parents sometimes feel frustrated when they spend hours choosing the safest, most colourful, most fun, and even educational toy for their child, only to learn that he will be clinging to his old toy. It is almost impossible to choose a ‘best toy’ for your child. The one that is best for his is the one that fascinates him endlessly, and to which he will return gaining more and more stimulation and enjoyment and will provide him the greatest learning experience.
The less formed ad more basic a toy, the more possibility it leaves for a child’s imagination and may help his creativity, more than a very expensively dressed doll which can only be one character.
One of the most important things to remember is that children change very rapidly, especially in the first 3 years and that a toy which entertains a two-month-old, will not entertain a two-year-old. As they develop they need different stimuli and the choice of toys must reflect these needs. The toy chosen must be appropriate for his age. If it is too good advanced then he will not know to play with it in the proper manner, and will not gain enjoyment. If on the other hand it is too primitive, he will get bored easily. Toys must stimulate all the 5 senses-vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste.
Having decided upon the appropriate type of toy for him, you must also consider a few more things. Is it completely safe? Is it stimulating? Does it have play value? It is fun? For example a bag of bricks is a ‘good’ toy to buy because it can be enjoyed at different ages with pleasure and will stimulate imaginative and active play. Toys that fit together or snap together teach children that they can change the appearance with dexterity.
Safety is also a very important consideration, when choosing or making a toy. You must not only check for dangerous design faults when purchasing them, but also at check for defects at regular intervals. It is impossible to provide a child with a totally safe environment. However you must take sensible safety precautions and satisfy his inquisitiveness with safe indoor toys. Your children must always be properly supervised and never left to play alone outdoors.
Using household items to make toysYou do not have to spend a lot of money to provide him with the best toy money can buy. A quick look around the kitchen, can provide your child with hours of fascinating fun.
ContainersPlastic food containers are the most versatile household toys. Plastic containers of different sizes can be used for putting in-taking out games. Put a few dried pulses in a firmly closed container and you have a rattle saucepans with wooden spoons create drum sets.
FoodDried pulses can be stuck on pieces of card to make kitchen collages. Vegetables like potatoes and carrots can be made into printing blocks.
Paper goodsToilet rolls with a little decoration make finger puppets. Hand puppets can also be made from paper bags. Empty cotton reels when threaded together makes a good pull toy, especially if painted to resemble a caterpillar.
Avoid T.V in young kidsTV has mesmerising and numbing effect on children and cuts them off from the direct experiences of their own world which is needed in order to develop. TV cuts down on the amount of social contact with the parent which is important for social and linguistic development.
Books and ReadingA single way, in which a parent could enrich a child’s environment, is by having books in the house. Words are crucial to the way our brains function. Books provide children with words to express feelings, ideas and thoughts. They explain the world he lives in. They provide the tool for imaginative play, introduce ideas and are fun.
Try to read to your child every day, or even several times a week and preferable at the same time. Choose books that are visually appealing with illustrations. Children like photos of people, places and events, with which they are familiar.
Fairy tales are fascinating to children, and they will learn to distinguish between real and unreal. They also encourage abstract thoughts and creative thinking.
The vocabulary should be easy to understand and the print big. Run your finger along the print, but do not force him to follow your finger. Make him notice things in the pictures. Re-read books for your child, especially if he asks you to. Don’t stop reading to him even though he starts to read by himself. Teach him to take care of books. Store books on low bookshelves in his room as this will encourage browsing, and always have a variety on hand.