Co-founder of educational toy company Click-A-Brick, and educational toy expert Georg de Gorostiza, says parents need to engage their children in play from a young age or they can risk stunting their mental development and miss the opportunity to foster a love of learning in their children.
Playing with children and engaging their minds need not be time-consuming or have too much focus on teaching them something, it can be as simple as just showing them very basic maneuvers and having them follow along. Using Click-A-Brick as an example, parents can easily show their small children the act of pulling the bricks apart and snapping them together to help them develop their motor skills and help them develop the capacity to follow along with demonstrated instructions.
“When parents hear the term ‘educational toy,’ they may think it means the toy has to teach math or reading skills or something like that, but even classic building blocks can be educational,” de Gorostiza says. “As long as a child’s mind is being engaged and they are learning something, whether that is the letter ‘A’ or that Tab A can fit into Slot B. But, parents need to devote at least some time to playing with their kids. If they just leave their children with the toys to play by themselves, the toys lose that educational aspect.”
De Gorostiza says older children can also benefit from parental playtime, as children tend to learn the easiest when they’re having fun. Often, children don’t realize on a conscious level that they’re learning, but when they’re doing something they enjoy, their brains more easily soak up information and process it just like if they were in school or some other designated learning environment. De Gorostiza says if parents can tap into that sort of inadvertent learning zone, where children are learning almost by accident, they have the potential to give a boost to their child’s development.If their children have the Click-A-Brick Animal Kingdom Safari 30-piece 5-in-1 building block set, for example, parents can innocuously suggest to their children that they try building a certain animal with the pieces they have. This helps develop cognitive thinking in older children and problem solving, as they think about what the best blocks are to use and how best to put them together to build the suggested animal. De Gorostiza says not taking the opportunity to engage a child like this is a lost opportunity to play a significant role in their development.