I often receive questions from parents, especially around the holidays, for suggestions of toys that will help their children grow listening, speech, and language skills… and have fun! This week’s tip helps you zero in on what kinds of toys promote language, and which you can walk right by in the toys store because they actually hurt your child’s language progress. Read on!
WHO: Play is important for children of all ages!
WHAT: Choose toys that require your child to imagine, create, and explore rather than push buttons or watch a screen. The more passive a toy (meaning, the fewer bells and whistles), the more active your child has to be in moving and thinking to make the toy fun. Think about it: you have to do a lot more to have fun with a dollhouse than with a computer game… and that’s exactly what your child’s brain needs to grow!
WHERE: Encourage active play at home, outdoors, in therapy, and at school.
WHEN: SIMPLE TOYS = ACTIVE BRAIN works all the time!
WHY: We know that parents talking to children is crucial to help children grow their brains. When researchers looked at how much parents talked to their children during play, the parents and children had the MOST conversation when looking at books, followed by play with traditional (non-electronic toys). Play with electronic toys showed the LEAST amount of parent-child talk (see Sosa, 2016).
HOW: It might take a while for a child who is used to the flashing lights and noises of electronic toys to get used to more active play with simpler playthings, but it’s a worthwhile investment. Play with your child to help him see how imagination is better than any show on the TV!