A child’s brain is a sponge that is constantly absorbing information from their experiences and surroundings. The young brain is so impressionable that giving your child just 15 minutes of stimulating free play every day gives them a 25% greater ability to learn new concepts. Giving your children an environment that is rich with toys that encourage mental development through free play is a wonderful way to help them develop a love of learning that will last their lifetime. We have compiled a list of a few great educational toys that will have your children learning, without them even realizing it:
- Magnetic Sets
Magnetic sets open a world of learning potential to your child through play. The manipulable aspect of magnetic sets encourages creativity, fine motor skills, and spacial principles. The curious way that the blocks cling together through the power of magnetism opens a child’s mine to scientific concepts and the scientific process of asking questions and testing theories (Such as: Why are the magnets attracted to each other? Do they stick to plastic material? Do they stick to metal? How many can be stacked on top of each other, defying gravity, through the power of magnetism?)
- Building Blocks
Studies show that adults who work in a design-related field, such as architecture, frequently played with building sets as a child. Building blocks incorporate creativity and problem solving into play. A child thinks they’re just creating the tallest block tower in the universe, but they’re also developing a sense of mechanics. Figuring out how wide the base of the tower needs to be to support the structure above it, how to reinforce a structure with support blocks to increase its stability, even how to make the blocks scatter the furthest when Godzilla knocks them over, are all architectural design concepts.
- Jigsaw Puzzles
Puzzles that interlock and snap together are self correcting toys; the child learns to identify the spacial relationship between the shapes that fit right into place and those that don’t fit. The problem solving aspect of putting a puzzle together develops the part of the brain that we use to do math equations. In fact, adults who have math related jobs, such as engineers, often were drawn to puzzles for entertainment as children.
- Imagination Play
Toys that encourage the use of imagination helps a child develop creativity, language skills, and the ability to express themselves. For example, pretend kitchen gadgets and plastic food give children the opportunity to create imaginary feasts. Dress up clothes encourages them to pretend they’re a princess, a doctor, an animal, or a superhero, and the the social interaction their imaginary persona would have. Even objects that aren’t actually toys are great conductors of imaginary play; a cardboard box becomes a spaceship blasting into space, a blanket and a chair become a pretend fortress. Giving your children toys and environments that encourage them to pursue their own interests and ideas promotes their enthusiasm for learning.
What toys are your children the most inspired by? What helps them learn or develop a love of learning? Please share your experience in the comment section below.