WHILE debate surrounds the effect of television and video games on young children, toys - especially educational ones - are generally well received.
Children are naturally curious with a penchant for learning and reap the rewards of stimulation from an early age.
In fact studies dating back to the 1940s and replicated many times since show that a child's IQ can be increased by some 50 points if the correct variety of input is experienced in the first six years of life.
Inherent skills can be developed through play and by using educational toys as incidental aides.
These together with parental involvement can help with memory retention, motor skills, hand-eye co-ordination and reading and math skills.
Good educational toys help to:
- Expose children to deeper intellectual challenges, to improve their creativity and innovativeness.
- Enhance your child's cognitive power development where different maturity levels of thinking are to be well developed as your child grows with the improved ability to manage the different challenges as they progress.
- Development of children's motor system needs to be in sync with their cognitive power development.
Although manufacturers have responded to the call from parents producing toys that are interesting and engaging while passing on skills like children's computers that teach literacy and numeracy, most toys can be used in an educational way and the process doesn't have to be an expensive exercise.
The most important thing is to choose toys that are age appropriate and are a match for your child's developmental stage.
So for babies rattles are perfect for little hands.
Sounds and colours improve the sensory recognition and provide stimuli for the senses.
Blocks are often a firm favourite with toddlers.
While kids are busy stacking them up and knocking them down, blocks are allowing them to develop their creativity and powers of critical thinking and logic.
Shape sorters (Fisher-Price $9.99) are also good fun and excellent for fine motor skills as well as hand-eye co-ordination and learning colours and shapes.
As children grow, more complex toys should be offered to keep them interested and to stimulate new and developing parts of their brains.
Now toys like puzzles (Playsafe On the Farm jigsaw puzzle, $13.95) and games like memory (Hasbro Original Memory, $10.65) and noughts and crosses take centre stage in improving mental ability and fostering critical thinking and logic.
It is also important as children near school age that they are interacting well with their peers.
Social interaction is imperative to developing a well-rounded child and toys that encourage imaginative play like a little kitchen and play food or even dress-up clothes come into their own.
Whatever activity your child engages in, it is vital they are having fun.
It is important too that you make time to sit down and play with them, engage in creative play and praise wholeheartedly when their attempts are successful.
Top 10 Educational Toys 2012
1. Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden
2. Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100
3. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby's First Blocks
4. LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table
5. Vtech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker
6. LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer
7. LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Alphabet Set
8. Snap Circuits SC-300
9. Melissa and Doug Wooden Shape Sorting Clock
10. Fisher-Price iXL 6-in-1 Learning System