Some people think that kids' toys are frivolous objects created by man to occupy a child's attention while mom or dad has something else to do. This is a misconception. Playing does help a child develop crucial skills; toys are the tools for them to learn and develop those skills.
Marilyn Segal, Ph.D., dean emeritus and director of the professional development program at Mailman Segal Institute for Early Childhood Studies at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says that playing is how kids learn about the world. It is through playing that their social, emotional, intellectual, and problem-solving skills are enhanced.
Children do learn skills when they engage in social games with other children. That level of playing, however, starts when they can walk and talk or generally interact with other kids their age. When they are too young, and therefore only have their parents or a caregiver to interact with, kids' toys are the necessary tools to enhance those crucial skills.
How do Kids' Toys Help Enhance Skills?
Toys provide the necessary stimulus for children to learn. They give children the opportunity to observe or experience how real objects behave.
Kids' toys are usually colorful for a reason. Colors are great stimuli to a child's mind. Some colors even promote excitement to children while they play. Certain colors stimulate a child's brain so the child can associate the color to real objects around him.
Another stimulus that toys can give a child is size and touch. Toys of varied shapes and textures allow a kid to learn about spatial relationships, patterns, shape recognition, or tactile experiences.
Toys also enhance a child's motor skills, hand-eye coordination, memory, imagination, creativity, and to some extent language skills, hygiene, and patience. With the right set of toys, young children can learn numbers and basic math and the alphabet.
Kids' Toys Bridge the Real and the Imagined
When young children play with stuffed animals, they can imagine those animals to be alive and making the noise created whenever the toys' buttons are pressed. Young girls can imagine their dolls to be dressing up for a party or their toy ovens to have a cake baking inside it. Young boys can imagine their toy trucks to be hauling animals to farm barns or carrying goods to a store.
Children's imaginations are stimulated when they play with their toys. Unlike adults, the minds of children are not yet hampered by real objects; hence, they can freely imagine their toys functioning like their real counterparts.
When children perform scenarios with their toys, the toys are merely tools for them to bring to life their perception of how an object functions or what the attributes are of a certain living creature.
Children are naturally curious, and it is their toys that stimulate their curiosity and enhances them to learn. Kids' toys need not be expensive. They only need to be appropriate for the child's age and safe enough for their use.