Toys Are Great Teachers.

With toys, children explore their world, discover how things work, encounter new ideas, build physical strength and dexterity, use their imaginations, and learn to cooperate with others. Read on to learn more about how toys can be beneficial to your child.

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Good toys don't have to be expensive. A toy doesn't even have to be new! And it doesn't take many. The only thing that really matters is that your child likes it. The relationship formed with the toy is what makes it educational. Good toys are appealing and interesting, suited to your child's physical and mental abilities and social development.

Hands-on toys build coordination, foster curiosity about how things work, and encourage cooperation and problem-solving. Books and recordings help children to appreciate words, literature, and music. Art materials can foster creativity, building skills that lead to reading and writing as well as seeing beauty in life. What's more, art allows your child to express himself long before he's able to communicate with speech. This builds self esteem and a confidence in his ability to make himself heard.

The classic building block is durable and it teaches children about geometry, gravity, shapes, balance and proportion. It also encourages the natural desire to create. Other construction toys, like Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs build muscle strength and help children learn about science and numbers. Toys that stimulate the senses are important. Musical instruments, furry things and things found in nature (like sand or water) are a great choice. Basic experiments help children to feel in control as they explore and offer a glimpse of how things in the world interact.

Different forms of play build different strengths and skills. Children move from one form of play to another instinctively. It's important to take cues from the choices they make. It will help you understand both what they want or need at a given moment, as well as provide you with helpful insight into the learning processes common to all children and how it shows itself in your child in particular. Toys that foster active play build strong muscles and the confidence to meet physical challenges.

Pretend play items like dolls, stuffed animals and action figures give children a chance to try new behaviors and dabble in the creation of a story. Pretend play is particularly important and it's especially beneficial when mom and dad get involved. It helps children develop broader and more complex patterns of play. This experience broadens their understanding of how people work together and as individuals. Studies have shown that children who play at make-believe with a parent are more likely to do so with other children. They tend to be more intellectually advanced and socially competent than their peers and are better able to understand the feelings of others.

Consider the selection and variety of available toys as well. Also, be aware of what your child has to work with at his day care or nursery school. Keep the available equipment in mind when choosing the right facility for your child. Be sure there are more than enough toys to go around for all the children who attend. Toddlers need multiple copies of most toys. Be sure the toys are safe, fun and interesting. Have some fun yourself by playing with your child. It's the best way to get to know him, how he thinks, how he expresses his thoughts and ideas and who he chooses for friends. The importance of letting children (even very young children) make choices for themselves about their games and toys can't be overstated. But they do need help. By participating in her process with her, you can guide and influence your child's choices in appropriate ways.

Children teach themselves. It's really just discovery. All they need is some safety, some encouragement and some well chosen equipment to get the most out the first phases of their expedition into life.

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