HANNIBAL | While choosing toys for children over the holidays, please do not overlook the importance of selecting toys which will promote active learning.
Dr. Julia Roberts, pediatrician with Hannibal Regional Medical Group, offered a few tips to help with choosing toys that will encourage children to learn while engaging in play.
“Active learning occurs when children learn or strengthen skills through play,” Roberts said. “Toys can help children with their problem-solving skills as well as encourage them to be active and explore new things.”
Select toys that encourage exploration, problem solving
Children are able to practice new skills over and over through play.
“When children play with toys that give them an opportunity to figure something out on their own, or with little help, they are building logical thinking skills and becoming problem-solvers,” Roberts said.
Items such as puzzles, blocks, nesting blocks or cups and art materials are good choices to help children learn and use their problem-solving skills.
Find toys that encourage children to be active
Toys that encourage children to be active help them practice current physical skills and develop new ones.
“Choosing toys that encourage physical activity will help your children develop motor skills and make them more confident to try more activities,” Roberts said.
Some toys that encourage active play are balls of different shapes and sizes, tricycles or three-wheeled scooters (with appropriate safety gear), gardening tools and plastic bowling sets.
Choose toys that encourage cross-generational play
Adults and children can play almost anything together, but some toys are designed for adults to play as well. Children as young as three can play board games and they are fun for all ages to play.
“Playing board games together will help your children learn to count, matching and strengthen memory skills,” Roberts said. “Children will also learn listening skills and self-control as they learn to follow the rules.”