Foundation for success in school

Young children learn best through play. Thoughtful selection of toys and materials can help you select the best and most appropriate toys to help form the foundation of school success in your young children.

No matter how old or young, children love to play. According to Colorado State University Extension, children learn about themselves, their environment, people and the world around them when they play. When children play, they learn to solve problems, get along with others and enhance key leadership skills. Young children also enhance their creativity and develop healthy personalities through play. Play also develops critical school readiness skills that children need to learn to read and write and form a foundation for long term school success.

In order to develop a foundation for success in school, young children must have numerous opportunities to play with a variety of good toys and materials. Young children must play with toys that will allow them to use their imagination during playtime. Toys are an important part of every child’s life. It is a wonderful feeling for parents to give the right toy to their young child. Selecting the right toy from among the many possibilities can be a daunting task for parents. Michigan State University Extension recommends asking yourself the following questions before you select a toy for your child:

Is it suitable for my child’s developmental stage?
Think about the stage your child has reached in terms of their skills. Are they banging things? Trying to put one object on top of another? Trying to turn knobs? Picking up pens and trying to scribble? You can have great fun selecting toys that will stimulate your child. Most children’s toys are labeled with the appropriate age range. Avoid toys that are likely to be too advanced for your child. Your child will either lose interest in them rapidly or become frustrated by them. They may even injure themselves on a piece made for an older child.

Is it safe?
Look for toys that appear to be sturdy and will last over time. Avoid toys that look as though they may break easily, toys that have sharp edges, and toys that can be swallowed. Any toy that has small parts that may be chewed or broken off can be a choking hazard for your young child. It is also essential to avoid toys with strings or cords that are more than six inches long because the danger of strangulation is too great.

Is it fun?
If a toy uses your baby’s skills and stimulates their senses, they are likely to find it fun. Avoid trying to speed up your baby’s development by forcing them to play with toys they are not yet ready to enjoy. Let them have fun and develop their skills at their own time. Always keep an eye on what your baby/ toddler enjoys playing with.       

Remember it is not always necessary to buy expensive or electronic toys for a child, particularly in the early years. Simple, safe homemade toys can also be a great source of entertainment for your young child.

To obtain additional detailed information about toy selection and safety, contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety commission.

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