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How Toys Can Help Your Kids Develop

Child Learning with Toys

By Julie Belair-Bak

Children develop and grow differently, they grow in response to their experiences and to their environment. Growth and development are individual and vary from child to child.  When considering how your child learns and how you might support your child’s learning remember there are only five doors to your child’s brain. The senses are the doors to your child’s brain, sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Engaging as many of your child’s senses while playing will propel and fuel their learning.

At Scholar’s Choice we support children learning through play and children require the following opportunities to achieve their hopes and dreams!

Playful Learning Approach:

  1. Children should self-direct their own play.
  2. Children develop social and emotional skills through cooperative play.
  3. Children explore and learn with all five senses.
  4. Children require endless opportunities for discovery-based play.
  5. Children need multiple opportunities to express themselves.

Children are busy developing: cognitively, socially, physically and, toys are essential for their development. Play is the work of children and ample opportunity for play is required for children to reach their full potential. Children learn about the world and use play to make sense of what they see and experience.

Playing with your children is essential and remembering that your child needs to lead the play is critical. Children will move from one toy to another often and change the flow of play to suit their needs. A toy that appears to you to be used one way could be used completely differently by a child.  The child is not wrong they are experimenting and learning as they play.

As you play with your child resist correcting your children’s play, all positive play is good and moving your child’s development forward.  Allow your child to lead the play, you are an active participant following their lead which can be a challenge as I shared play changes frequently and fast. You will know if you are leading the play because your child will lose interest and is not be engaged.

Toys that offer open-ended like blocks or loose parts are always a great toy to play with your child. You can be building a house and the next minute it is a barn, or you find the pieces have been knocked down in preparation to the next great idea your child wants to develop. Avoid questioning or telling children not to knock down a creation they are merely making room for their next amazing creation. Children need repetitive play to become experts and repetitive play requires toys and lots of free unstructured play time.

Ages and Stages

6 months to 1 year

Cognitive:

  • Developing interests in schematic play, open/ shut, push /pull, drop/ pickup
  • Remembers simple events, people objects, and games (peek a boo is always a great favorite)

 Social:

  • Begins to imitate others
  • Recognizes their own name
  • Can identify objects, body parts, and simple commands

Physical:

  • Begin to move around, crawling, walking along furniture and walking could all be apart of this stage of development.
  • Begins to hold objects in one hand
  • Enjoys routines (i.e., bath time)
  • Finds hidden objects

Best Toys

Penguin Musical Wobbler

Explore and more egg shakers

Dimpl

Skip Hop Farmstand Grow & Play Activity Gym

1 year to 2 years

Cognitive:

  • Begins to mark make – print, draw, or make marks
  • Drawn to items that move or can be moved
  • Begin to point to objects when asked
  • Can start to sort simple items
  • Speaks and understands combined words

Social:

  • Imitates adult actions
  • Begins pretend play
  • Expresses affection
  • Begins to assert independence (tantrums can be the results)
  • Follows simple direction

Physical:

  • Very active, developing large gross muscle skills
  • Walks steadily
  • Strong awareness of senses
  • Continues with schematic play, open/ shut, push /pull, drop/ pickup

Best Toys

Busy Stack Shapes and Squishies

Spoolz

Shape Sorter Xylophone

Mix and Match Animals

2 years to 3 years

Cognitive

  • Begin to develop math concepts, counting, sorting, and colors
  • Grouping, patterning, and sorting are a part of regular play
  • Begins to solve problems in their head
  • Dramatic play continues – essential for self-expression
  • Loves the sensory experience of messy play, textures are interesting as they explore learning through their senses

Social:

  • Language is rapidly developing, uses 100 plus words
  • Can identify colours and some numbers
  • Asks and answers questions
  • Recognizes self in photos
  • Enjoys simple stories

Physical:

  • Likes to take things apart
  • Begins to have greater control over their body, attempts jumping, rolling, and hanging
  • Throws and retrieves objects
  • Working on standing on one foot

Best Toys

Mix and Match Animals

Marble Runway

Fantasy Hopper

Dress Me Owl

Giraffe Activity Center

3 Years to 5 Years

Cognitive

  • Curious and creative
  • Growing interest in numbers and developing an understanding of numeracy
  • Matches and sorts
  • Dramatic or fantasy play is a part of everyday
  • Copies letters and numbers

Social

  • Understands who, what, where and why questions
  • Begins to understand what print letters are used for
  • Tells stories and loves to explore imaginative play
  • Development of friends
  • Hates to lose – social-emotional development is a struggle at this age, try cooperative games as a starting point for overcoming this challenge.

Physical

  • Likes to change tasks frequently – a selection of educations toys and manipulative if essential for this age
  • Developing fine motor skills – can cut with scissors, crafts are enjoyed by this age group
  • Loves outdoor play – developing a love for the outdoors and exploring nature is a marvelous way to ignite both math and science interests
  • Block building is critical to our success

Best Toys

Deluxe Easel Magnetic All in 1

Fill and Roll Grocery Basket

Alphabet Bingo Board Game

Spot it

Bee-Bot

Magical Magnets 96 piece set

All children grow and move from one developmental stage to the next at different times. When you look at your child and compare them to other children, consider what your child can do. Focus on the positives and celebrate their accomplishments. If you see a skill that your child has not mastered think about what you could do to support that next stage of development. The use of toys, books, songs, and social engagement to propel and scaffold or move your child to the next level of development

It is critical that you do not make your child feel bad about themselves as a healthy, happy child is the goal for all parents. Ages and stages are a guideline, not developmental milestones that must be achieved in order or by a certain age. Be proud of your child’s accomplishments, and they too will share in that pride.  Happy children are always the most successful children in school, at home, and in life.

All Toy recommendations are from Scholar’s Choice

About the Author

Julie Belair-Bak

Julie Belair-Bak , HBSc, MPed ( 2020 ), has worked in the field of early learning for 19 years. Working with teachers and ECE to facilitate and support early learning is a passion. Children learn through play and as a toy expert and Vice President of Sales with Scholar’s Choice Julie searches the world for products that ignite and inspire little ones to learn and grow. Speaking engagements throughout Canada you can join Julie for an fun filled night of learning how to play with your children.

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What Sets Us Apart

Our award-winning curriculum was formed through in-depth research into early childhood learning and development. A blend of play-based (Frog Street) and child-led (Emergent) curriculums, all activities are hands-on, child-guided and exceed provincial early learning frameworks.

Our dedicated and passionate early childhood educators deliver an innovative, engaging and proven curriculum that ignites a love of learning and inspires and encourages individuality in every BrightPath child. Their nurturing and attentive approach offers each child a home-away-from-home experience.

Two-way communication is important. Monthly newsletters, curriculum nights, parent interviews, open houses and our proprietary app (BrightPath Connect™) are designed to increase the interaction between our centres and families.

Children need nutrition to grow in both mind and body. Believing that food choices throughout childhood fuel life long eating habits, our menu is crafted by a Registered Nutritionist and prepared in-house daily and reflects those beliefs.

What Sets Us Apart

  • Our award-winning curriculum was formed through in-depth research into early childhood learning and development. A blend of play-based (Frog Street) and child-led (Emergent) curriculums, all activities are hands-on, child-guided and exceed provincial early learning frameworks.

  • Our dedicated and passionate early childhood educators deliver an innovative, engaging and proven curriculum that ignites a love of learning and inspires and encourages individuality in every BrightPath child. Their nurturing and attentive approach offers each child a home-away-from-home experience.

  • Two-way communication is important. Monthly newsletters, curriculum nights, parent interviews, open houses and our proprietary app (BrightPath Connect™) are designed to increase the interaction between our centres and families.

  • Children need nutrition to grow in both mind and body. Believing that food choices throughout childhood fuel life long eating habits, our menu is crafted by a Registered Nutritionist and prepared in-house daily and reflects those beliefs.