Educational Toys – Do They Really Educate? (Part I)

Today many toy manufacturers in their development of toys for children take an approach known as “constructivism”. Constructivism is a psychological theory that humans learn and grow in knowledge and understanding through what they experience through life. Because children from infancy – 6 years of age learn mainly through daily play it is no wonder that toy manufacturers look more at producing toys with a learning curve in mind.

With the digital age upon us it can become very easy for parents – caregivers to invest in the multitudes of CD’s and DVD’s that claim to be educational. Although they may not be harmful per se, research reveals that the majority of them are entertaining and not educational even when advertised as having an educational curriculum. Why is this? Because many of them are passive and do not require any interaction. It is experience through interaction that stimulates positive growth. With all the media that is available for children it is important that parents – caregivers take a closer look at what their children are exposed to.

Since the advent of the electronic market of computers, cell phones, portable DVD players and personal size digital music and gaming devises there has also be a turn in the age that children begin using them. Recent studies indicate that the average age of children beginning to use these devices on a daily bases are between the ages of 4 and 5. Could this be why many adults look in amazement as to how well children seem to know their way around the electronic realm more than they? Again there is nothing wrong with this technology, but are our children being entertained or truly educated. Because a child may know his – her way around an iPod does not mean that the educational and developmental skills to take life head on are being nurtured.

Children from infancy – 6 years of age are by design curious. This leads them into a realm of exploration in all that they do. Parents and caregivers can capitalize on a child’s curiosity simply by introducing into their play time toys that will challenge them in any of the six major developmental areas; physical, social, emotional, language, creative and cognitive skills and development. (To learn more concerning these developmental areas refer to “ezinearticle” entitled, “Educational Toys and Early Childhood Education”) Research reveals that when a child is stimulated and challenged in these developmental areas the potential for learning and development is greater because it give the child’s brain a jump start to what lies ahead.

So it is important that parents – caregiver help their children early so that a firm foundation for learning is established. However, keep in mind that your child is growing and learning so when looking into educational toys during this holiday season check to be sure that the toys are neither beneath nor above your child’s ability to advance. Also what ever toy you may purchase, do not just put your child in a room by themselves to play,. The best toy purchased this holiday season is the toy that invokes interaction between parent – caregiver and child. It is during this type of interactive play that your child will benefit most no matter how good the manufacturers claims may be.