Judy's Tips

General

Choose toys that are not only educational but should also be simple to use. If the toy is too far above the age group then the child may not show interest in playing with it.

Look for toys that engage children at multiple levels – that make the brain think. They are better value for money because of the hours of play (play value). If something is a “good price” it may not be good play value and very short lived, therefore not good value for money.

Young children don’t need techno toys until they are a lot older. Restrict the time spent in front of electronic devices – from computers to play stations.

Don’t push a child. Whilst educational toys should help develop a child’s interests, skills, and encourage independent learning, they should still be matched closely with his/her developmental stage and personality type.

Both solitary and social play is necessary for a child’s development. A child can play with a construction toy by themselves and, in the process, develop independence, self-sufficiency and persistence. Playing with the same toy with others, he/she acquires social skills such as sharing, understanding, coordination and the value of fun element.

Games that are engaging often take time to grasp the rules but they are usually great strategy games that the family play for years: even generations.

Gardening is such a great activity. It encourages scientific discovery and it is so rewarding for the child to pick flowers or to eat what they have grown.

Kids love baking. It teaches them to pay attention, to follow a plan and they get to eat something tasty at the end. Following a plan means they have to remember what they have already done which is great for their memory skills. Impulse control is another great lesson by not letting them eat the uncooked mixture.

Learning to sort things encourages good organisation. Besides sorting is a basic maths skill. It also saves frustration at not being able to find something when they want to play with it later.

Have containers for things to go in with a child friendly lid. Shelves are great for storing as it means products are visible and accessible.

A good guide for behaviour is asking yourself will it still be 'cute' if my child is acting this way when they are (say) 14?

Age: Birth to 1

From birth to one year, your baby will experience huge developmental changes. Baby toys at this stage need to stimulate the senses, particularly the senses of sight, sound and touch. Toys generally should be colourful, textured or make noise.

Toddlers

Kids at this stage are full of energy, raring to go and want to explore everything around them. They love to do all kinds of physical activities like pulling, pushing, lugging, knocking down, emptying and filling. Physical and gross motor skills are developed as a child learns to reach, grasp, crawl, run, climb and balance. Toddlers are full curiosity where they have to touch and investigate everything they see.
Toys that encourage children to stack or manipulative objects will make your child think creatively (to create new shapes). These educational toys not only improve creativity but also improve psychomotor and spatial awareness skills such as holding properly with fingers and strengthen the muscles of fingers, arms and the hand.

Pre-schoolers

Pre-schoolers love toys that stimulate the imagination, offer a challenge and are basically fun to play with. Learning to cooperate, negotiate, take turns and play by the rules are important life skills for social development.

Games that develop social skills grow as the child plays. Children learn to imitate desirable responses such as taking turns with board games, cards, or other activities that require a child to wait for others. As a result, children learn about winning and losing, and the roles and rules in the real world.

Age: 5 – 8

As they grow older choose dynamic toys that engage the child every day. Kids are very curious at this stage and they want to explore, invent, create and conquer. Children between the ages of 5 and 8 enjoy a wide variety of toys and games that help them use their imagination. Here are some suggestions for this age group.
Playing shops have a great way to increase numeracy and social skills. (Also you can never have too much Lego but you can have too much Lego all over the floor!!)

Age: 9-12

The ages of 9 – 12 are when kids are shaping up their personalities. They love playing fast-paced or strategy games, learning musical instruments, figuring out complicated mechanisms and much more.

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