The first few years of a child's life are the most important developmentally. The toys that a child plays with during this time can have a direct impact on his or her learning capacity as he or she gets older.
Toys Impact Learning from Infancy:
There are toys that can help with a child's development when the child is as young as two weeks old. Infant's eyes are not fully developed when they are first born. They can't discern separate objects very distinctly. The addition of a black and white mobile over a baby's bed or a stuffed toy that has a high level of colour contrast can help an infant learn to follow objects with their eyes, which can lead to better comprehension of the world around them. High contrast toys also help an infant learn to focus on one item for short periods of time.
Early Learning Toys Enhance Spatial Understanding:
Toddlers can gain quite a lot from playing with blocks and other spatial manipulation toys. The best toys for spatial recognition are the ones that require children to put differently shaped objects through the right holes. The child has to recognize the shape, and then find the corresponding hole to poke the object through. Spatial understanding is a fundamental skill that will aid in the child's ability to learn as he or she gets older.
Developing Hand-Eye Coordination:
Small cobbler benches and workshops with oversized plastic tools can help a child develop better hand-eye coordination. The toy requires that the child find the right tool and then apply it properly to turn screws, hammer large nails, and perform other tasks that require fine motor skills. Any toy that allows the child to see something and then react to it with some form of action helps the child learn how to better control physical functions. Older children will benefit from games that require a more detailed sense of dexterity, like mazes or puzzle books.
Reading Aids for Young Children:
The right books can seem like a toy rather than a strict learning aid. Some books have electronic elements that read portions of the text for the child or play a sound that correlates with certain sections of the story. These interactive books help children become more comfortable with reading as a fun activity. They also provide ways for children to associate the sound with certain pages of the book, which can lead to a better understanding of how the words on the page relate tell the story.
Learning Social Skills Through Play:
One of the most important learning tools that toys provide is socialization. Children who play with various toys have to learn how to share and how to be nice to others while they play. Even if a child is playing with parents instead of other children, social skills are an integral part of the playing. Some toys, like play kitchens, teach children about the daily tasks that everyone has to deal with as an adult. Fun games in childhood prepare children for the real life of adulthood.
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