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Educational Toys Are Only Educational When Parents Participate in Play

Imagine if your child was in school sitting in math class and the teacher just wrote a bunch of numbers on the board and then left it up to the students to figure out what to do with those numbers.

That wouldn’t be very helpful, would it?

But, that’s essentially what happens when a parent buys an educational toy for their child and then just gives the child the toy and leaves them with it. Children don’t learn by osmosis, they need to be guided and sometimes even shown how to play with a toy before it truly becomes an educational toy. If you just give it to them and walk away without engaging them, it loses any educational potential it had.

And this goes for Click-A-Brick, too. You could just give Click-A-Brick to your child and not play with them and they’ll still have a blast building things and playing with what they build, but if you show them how to follow the directions or look at the pictures and try to figure out what blocks go where, suddenly you’ve transformed that regular toy into a toy that’s teaching your kids problem solving, hand-eye coordination, patience and even helping to give them a sense of accomplishment.  

For the younger children, showing them how the bricks connect and how they pull apart is helping them develop motor skills and spatial reasoning.

You don’t have to believe us, though. But, you should believe a little friend who we call; science.

Researchers Lydia Plowman and Joanna McPake with the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education saw all these new fangled electronic toys coming out (including children’s apps for smartphones and tablets) that were all labelled with the magic words “interactive” and “educational” and decided to test whether they were, in fact, educational.

What the pair of researchers found was that regardless of how interactive a toy is, the educational aspect doesn’t come into play (pun intended) unless parents get in there and play with their children, at least once in a while and particularly when they get a new so-called educational toy so the children understand how it operates. Once they’re shown how it works, they’ll start learning on their own just by playing with it.

Here’s some really good news about all this educational toy business; Professor of Education at Victoria University Nicola Yelland says almost any toy has the potential to be an educational toy if parents engage their children and play with them using the toy during play.

 

This is incredibly good news for parents because it’s no secret that toys that are touted as being educational or brain-boosting can sometimes have their prices inflated to reflect that. But, as Yelland says, it’s not the toys themselves that are educational per se, it’s the way they’re used that makes them educational. Used strategically (yes, we just used the word “strategically” while talking about child’s play) virtually any toy can be used as a teaching tool if parents are willing to take the time to get in touch with their inner child and play with their children.

 

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