Why Toys Are Important for Child Development
Play and toys support child development. Playing is what children do. Toys are their tools. When adults shop for tools, quality counts. We want safe ones that work well and enable us to do our best. We look for thoughtfully designed, well-made, sturdy, built-to-last products that we’ll enjoy using over and over again. All this, and more, holds true for toys.
Here’s what I have learned. Play is essential. Quality developmental toys support skill- building and, thereby, enhance play. Consequently children flourish. So what does that mean?
Safety matters. Sound construction is a must. But that’s not the whole picture. The developmental age of the child matters too. Safety is a collaborative effort. Even the safest toys require adult supervision.
Manufacturers are required to label products that pose a chocking hazard. The most common reads WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD – Small parts. Not for children under 3 years old. That’s one of six. The others apply to a toy that is or contains a small ball or a marble or, likely the most serious hazard, contains magnets.
Yet another warns that children under 8 years of age can choke or suffocate on un-inflated or broken balloons. That Children with balloons require adult supervision. Safety warnings alert us to hazards. Beyond that we must take into account where our children are developmentally. We do well to remember that some need more time to grow out of the habit of putting everything in the mouth. No blame, no shame. Every child develops at his or her own pace.
Thoughtful Design and Careful Construction
Thoughtful design and careful construction are hallmarks of the best tools for play. First and foremost these attributes reflect an understanding of child development and an appreciation of how children acquire skills while playing.
When a toy is well-made, it is not only safe, but also satisfying. It works as intended. That’s important. Just as we want our tools to perform well, children want their toys to meet their expectations. Otherwise play becomes frustrating, and the toy is cast aside.