Lisa’s Tips for Choosing Children’s Toys
When purchasing gifts for children, child development experts, including the American Association of Pediatrics and its Council on Early Childhood’s clinical report which came out on December 3rd, recommend high-quality toys that encourage caregiver-child interactions, peer play, and the growth of imagination.
According to the report, “high-quality toys can be helpful “props” for promoting playful interactions by providing a shared focus for the parent and child that is developmentally aligned and engaging. Toys that promote pretending together (e.g., dolls, characters and animals) can facilitate use of words and narratives to describe feelings and emotions. Imaginative play with such toys also can support language development, self-regulation and social-emotional development. Playing with toys such as blocks and puzzles can support fine motor skills, cognitive and language development, and early spatial skills and math. Use of toys such as balls in physical activity can support gross motor development, self-regulation and peer interaction because of negotiations around rules that typically take place.”
At the CEC, we ask ourselves many of the following questions when selecting toys.
Will it hold children’s attention?
Will it build on skills the child already has and provide a few new challenges?
Will it allow children to use it in new, different or more complex ways as they grow?
Is it safe?
Does it promote creativity, social interaction and play with peers, as well as play on ones own?
Is it non-combative, non-aggressive, and non-commercial?
Does it foster hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills?
Can it be enjoyed by all genders?
How many senses does it stimulate?
Also, we always find it helpful to think about what toys stayed with us as children - what made them memorable or special over the years? One of my favorites was an old set of baking tins I used to make mud pies in the back yard, which I would then “ice” with flower petals, leaves and twigs. What was one of yours?
Allegra’s Recommendations for Local Stores
During this festive time of year, we thought it would be helpful to offer suggestions of unique stores to visit for ideas for interesting and unusual gifts. Sometimes it can be difficult to think outside the box for gifts which inspire. As Program Directors, we are familiar with these local businesses for both our own families and for the CEC classrooms. I love to take my daughters with me to see what they are drawn to and secretly make notes of what they are interested in to purchase at another time.
Erinn’s Recommendations for Online Shopping
Like many parents, I do a lot of my holiday shopping online. As the Infant Toddler Director, I am always looking for high quality, wooden or handcrafted toys for the infants and toddlers in the program that will peak their curiosity and remain an open-ended experience for children who interact with them. Consequently, I have also been able to find toys and materials that I want for my own children. Here are a few sites that I have relied upon over the years for items for classrooms, my own children, and gifts for friends and extended family. I hope you will find them to be great resources for your family as well.
For more great ideas, please check out last year’s Commercial Free Gift Guide!