Play is serious business.

On the surface, it just looks like fun, but despite your home potentially being overrun with toys, play helps your child develop and acquire skills they will need for the future. Toys are the instruments to a child’s development, you just have to find the right ones for your child.

So how can you distinguish what toys are right for your child? This blog will guide you through determining what toys they are going to need now and in the future.

Why are toys important?

Toys are props that help children understand the world from a very young age. It helps them grasp the understanding of rules, roles and potential career options. One of the most frequently asked questions in school is what do you want to be when you grow up? As a child, their answer is often reflected by what toys they have had the opportunity to play with, such as wanting to be a soccer player or a truck driver. But that’s not all toys help with; toys are important because they are a functional component to developing motor skills, social skills and cognitive skills. Toys help them walk, help them solve, and even help them share with others. Often children will use toys as an anchor for challenging activities or for expressing their emotions as it is easier to convey their feelings through toys than through themselves.

Babies and Playtime

For babies, it’s all about the five senses. They love being able to see, hear and touch things as these are some of the first sensory elements they are exposed to. Playtime is often a solitary activity as they discover what’s around them but as they begin to grasp the world, generally at about six months old, you become their first and favourite playmate. You might see your baby begin to mimic you, begin to seek your attention or grab at things you are “playing with” such as pens and paper to understand how they work. These first toys will be their introduction to the world and will help them understand how to use their senses.

Toys to consider for babies:
  • Nursery mobile
  • Ring stack
  • Listening toys, such as readalong books, videos or songs
  • Teething toys and rattles
  • Unbreakable mirror to see themselves
  • Push pull toys

Toddlers and Playtime

Toddlers often begin to grab a sense of the world around them and they begin to become a little independent. Toys are now not just objects they can grab, but instruments for their new narratives and to extend their imagination. At this age they begin to understand how toys work and what they can be used for. Often children are attracted to the noisy, bright and colourful toys – sometimes to parents annoyance. But with these toys, their motor skills increase as they find new ways to play. One of those new ways may be pretend play and make-believe which not only helps them with motor skills, but with developing extensive narratives and finding interests. At Child’s Play ELC we recommend always encouraging make-believe and participating in their games when you can.

Toys to consider for toddlers:
  • Toys for pretend play: bowls, trucks, dolls etc
  • Balls
  • Shape sorting
  • Mechanical toys

Kindergartners and Playtime

By the time they reach kindergarten, children are becoming more logical with how they use toys and they are beginning to understand the function of toys. This leads them to a world of possibilities and it’s often when they begin to communicate what they want to play with. Generally, this is also the time when imaginary friends start popping up and your child begins to think they have magical powers or are a superhero, princess or figures of importance. As parents, we should encourage our children to participate in imaginative play because it helps them to visualise possibilities. As kindergartners, toys will also help them be more active as they learn new tricks and want to make up dances or games.

Toys to consider for Kindergartners:
  • Arts and crafts
  • Construction set
  • Miniature sport set: basketball hoop, cricket wicket, netball ring etc
  • Ready to read books
  • Puzzles

Why Child’s Play ELC

Child’s Play is a community-friendly childcare centre that provides early years education for children aged from 6 weeks to 6 years. We love playing with toys just as much as the next child, but at Child’s Play we allow these toys to structure their learning and create unique opportunities that a rigid structure would not be able to provide. We can provide you with tips and tricks to help maintain a routine, and understand what is normal when your child plays. Enrol your child and see how unstructured play can make a world of difference in their lives.