The world of play has changed a little since we were young. Skipping ropes, hopscotch, and “imagination games,” which required little more than an active and imaginative mind, have been replaced by flashing lights and loud noises, buttons and robotic features, and the omnipresence of the screen.
This new generation of flashy gizmos is considered to be more sophisticated than the toys we played with when we were young nippers. I beg to differ! It is easy enough, in this world of technological awe and wonder, to lose sight of what really makes for good play.
As a parent, this is certainly something that is worth some consideration. Some people take the issue to be very serious. The Alliance for Childhood, for example, are a group who have campaigned against “killjoy” toys: toys that fail to engage the imagination of your child, and instead inhibit creative play.
The truth is, where children are concerned, imagination is nine tenths of the law. At least it should be.
Some things, luckily, will never change. There will always be educational toys on the market that help to engage your child's mind in a healthy and active way.
Educational Toys For A Healthy Imagination:
There are certain hallmarks to look out for when you consider which toys might help to promote your child's imagination:
Toys with only one formula, and one outcome, deliver a linear message to your child, and not one that is likely to invoke imagination. The toy is telling them that X = X, and that is that! On the other hand, if a toy can be used in several ways, with several outcomes, it can promote an extremely valuable type of thinking in your child: they will be able to use their imagination to figure out a multitude of solutions and outcomes. If you can play with a toy in more than one way, then you are on to a winner.
Okay, so TV and video games can certainly keep children quietly entertained, but that is not the point of play. Play should be fun and extroverted, interactive and engaging. It should help to promote teamwork, and encourage bonds between you and your child, and their siblings and friends. You should be able to play and create together; laugh, smile, and interact.
They Can Create!
Creativity and proper play are highly related. An educational toy is one that allows the child some sort of artistic license. The toy should facilitate a world of play inside the child's mind, and not do all of the hard work for them. Your child will feel proud when they can build and create for themselves, and this boosts their confidence, and their ability to solve problems.
They Can Pretend!
Do you remember the days when all you needed to entertain yourself was a little castle with figurines, or a doll that you can dress up and have a tea party with, or some building blocks that you could build a spaceship or zoo out of? A child's mind is racing with ideas and inspiration, unbound by the limitations we gain as adults. Children love to pretend. Educational toys allow them to do so.
Choose Toys That Help To Bring Back The Imagination
We have to embrace technology, and the changes that time inevitably brings. We have to accept that not everything will be as it was when we were kids. But we also have a responsibility to our child's imagination, to make sure it is not diluted by a lack of real play.
It is safe to say that some imaginative and educational toys are here to stay. Stuffed toys, dolls, and simple figures that can promote imagination are still enjoyed by children, and so are creative and artistic classics like play-dough, art sets, and the timeless building block toys.May they always help to keep play alive!