The Click-A-Brick crew is pleased to see Northwestern University will be hosting an event Nov. 18 to assist parents in picking the best gifts for helping children learn and develop their language and communication skills.
The university’s Center for Audiology, Speech, Language, and Learning is hosting the free event for caregivers and parents who are looking for gifts that their kids will not only love, but that will help in the development of the children they’re buying them for.
Featuring expert pediatric speech-language pathologists and audiologists, the event will cover why certain toys are developmentally appropriate for children in certain age ranges; specific toys that enhance development in speech, language and general communication; how to avoid toys that emit excessive noise that can damage children’s hearing; and the use of headphones and earbuds by teens.
The event was inspired by the school’s faculty seeing parents constantly buying noisy electronic toys for their children and also by increasingly sophisticated talking toys like the new Hello Barbie, which uses speech recognition and a WiFi connection to hold conversations with children.
The best gifts for encouraging communication development in children are the ones that encourage interaction, according to Denise Boggs Eisenhauer, Director of Speech, Language and Learning Services at Northwestern University.
"Noisy toys that talk, sing and play music don't provide much opportunity for you to engage with your children, and that interaction is how your children learn to communicate with others," Boggs Eisenhauer said.
Judy Roman, an American Speech Language Hearing Association board certified specialist in childhood language says while children are naturally drawn to electronic toys that make noise, the best gifts for children tend to be classic toys.
"Building blocks and other toys that promote pretend play and storytelling foster language development," Roman said. "Any toys that result in families playing together, building upon each others' imaginations and creating new stories will encourage the best developmental results."
Click-A-Brick Co-Founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza say they welcome the announcement of the free event, as parents are often drawn to noisy and/or talking toys based on the misconception that noise equals interaction.
“We are thrilled that Northwestern University is holding this event for parents and other caregivers,” Smith said. “Much like kids, parents can get caught by the flashy lights and noises that toys make, not realizing that if the toys are the ones doing the talking or making the noise, their kids often aren’t talking. We completely agree with what these childhood development experts say. The classic toys are often the best for kids. They’ve become classics for a reason, after all. But, as with any toy, even the classic ones require parental interaction to be really effective. That doesn’t mean a parent has to constantly be talking to the child, but asking simple questions and having simple conversations with children goes a long way to developing their communication skills.”
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