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Appropriate Toys For Children, How To Make Good Choices
Play is serious business to a child.
Toys for all good purposes.
I am not recommending any specific toys, merely putting out some ideas regarding the purpose and suitability of the toys you may choose.
All children need to have toys.. They need to have toys that are just pure fun, that make them giggle and laugh and act silly. But they also need toys that foster learning, creativity, and curiosity. They need to have games that help make them become rational thinkers, to see all sides of a question, and to learn to make their own decisions, wise ones, with which they can live.
Toys do not have to be expensive. A child also should not have too many toys. For various reasons, we may shower our children with too many toys, so many that they are not valued. Rather a few toys that the child loves and plays with often than so many that they just become a heap on the floor and are neglected or abused.
Creative toys for children are the cheapest of all, in fact, most are free. To give children dress-up clothes and costumes is not a bad idea. But to give them some randomly shaped pieces of cloth, lace, and ribbon, along with glue if they are young, and a needle and thread if they are older, will foster even greater creativity. The brightly colored blocks that are available for purchase are wonderful toys for children, but better still are scraps of plain wood, in a lot of assorted sizes and shapes, perhaps sanded down scraps from Dad's workshop. Let the children paint them if they wish, but let this be the child's decision. Keep on hand crayons, paints, pens, pencils, scissors, paste, bits of fabric, beads, and buttons. Get a roll of newsprint from your local newspaper. Make your own modeling dough. There are lots of good recipes on the internet. Do not color it unless pressed to do so. Some clays can be painted and oven-fired when complete. Let the child make their own or at least help. Never use your drawings or art as examples for children. This destroys their creativity and gives them an example they cannot hope to emulate.
It is up to parents to start fostering curiosity in their children. When your children are very young, take them to as many different environments as possible, in all weathers, and at all times of day, and even night. Start by pointing out things to them and later ask questions. I wonder what's under that rock. What will that look like in water?. What happened to those green leaves? Collect leaves, and rocks. How many different birds you can see. How many different songs can you hear. Observe bugs but leave them where you find them. Teach respect for all life forms. Start children off using only their eyes. Follow up these explorations with trips to the library for related age-appropriate books. Find a few and then let the child chose one or two. A good beginning gift in this area is a magnifying glass. Later on you can buy different science kits. There are some excellent kits out there, but many are pure junk, so do some research to find the best. Make sure they are sturdy, with reusable parts, clear instructions, and no dangerous materials.
Games are a good way for your child to practice a variety of skills, and also a wonderful way to bring the family together. Remember though, that games are toys, and toys by their very name, should have a fun element. De-emphasize winning or losing. Games are like sports in one aspect, or at least should be. "It's not whether you win or lose it's how you play the game". Again, make games age-appropriate. Do some research and find out what games are considered winners.
In my humble estimation, the most valuable gift you can give any child is a book. If children learn to read well, they can learn anything. Their lives will be richer, and I don't mean dollar-wise, and more meaningful. With the help of your librarian, if necessary, choose books that are age appropriate and of interest to your child. Choose books that are well-written, with some challenging vocabulary. Start off reading to your children when they are still babies. They will love the sound of your voice whether or not they put any meaning to the words. Poetry is a good first choice. Children ask for their favorite books again and again. You will soon find that you cannot skip parts because they know their books by heart. If children as they get older want to read to you, that is fine. Personally, I would not press a child to read aloud, as their reading cannot compete with yours for many years. It is human nature for a child to want to learn, unless they are overly pressured. Pressuring a child to learn makes them nervous, destroys their confidence, and undermines a natural process.
Toys, whether they are pricey, or free like the ones in the picture at the top of the page, are a major part of a child's life. Choose them wisely.