As we approach the busiest toy buying season of the year here are a few tips from certified speech therapist on the top toy buying rules to follow. Kim Rowe, from the Little Stories Blog, formulated these from her vast experience with children.
1) DON’T get hung up on gender.
Parents get so hung up on what are girl versus boy toys, but I’d like to make an announcement, “DOLLS ARE FOR BOYS TOO”! So are dollhouses. AND, so are kitchen sets. These toys have been given a gender assignment that makes no sense developmentally. Young children beginning to develop pretend play know about things like feeding, washing, sleeping, and cooking because this is what they experience all day.
Realistically, most boys haven’t experienced too much about real race cars, trains, and outer space. While those subject areas are certainly of interest and will most likely develop at some point, early learners are concrete, not abstract. Those subjects your child has not yet lived. Little ones can play the most about the things they know the most about and those are things that go on around the home.
Plus, don’t we WANT to teach our boys to hold babies and to rock them, to make soup, or give the dog a bath in the bathtub? Fathering is an important part of learning to grow up for boys and we shouldn’t be steering them away from that initially.
2) DO pick toys that will grow with your child.
You know those push button, noisy toys, that target a specific skill? You know how you can’t wait to get them out of your house once your child has tired of them? Well, don’t bring any more of those into your house then.
You want toys that will last with your child as he grows and as his play and language grows. With good toys you can target endless words and fill endless pages of your child’s story. A noisy toy may just target letters and colors. A really great toy like a dollhouse will work on “eat”, “sleep”, “upstairs”, “refrigerator”, “daddy’s sleeping”, “the dog is dirty”, “the mail is here”, “what should we have for dinner”, and “where should the baby sleep?”.
3) DO pick toys that your child can do things to, but DON’T pick toys that do too much stuff on their own.
With all of those noisy, push-button, toys it’s assumed that your child is pushing the button and then staying around, tuning in, and comprehending what the toy then says or does in order to “teach” your child one of the SCLANs (shape, color, letters, and numbers). Instead let’s pick toys where our child can DO more than push a button. Let’s pick toys where our child can stack, put in, ride, shake, stir, talk, pick up, look at, read, and pretend. Doesn’t that sound more like play then pushing a button? Doesn’t that sound like a toy your child could actually learn something from?