Parents often ask which toys to purchase for their child. There are so many factors to consider: learning, development, socialization, entertainment, and of course, fun! So how do you know which toys are best? Here are a few basic principles to consider when choosing the right toy for your child:
How do I choose the right toys to promote speech for my child?
1. Be simple. When it comes to toys, less is often more. Toys should stimulate exploration and creativity, which is often best accomplished through simple toys such as building blocks, play-doh, and pretend play.
2. Avoid toys that do all the work for your child. Even though electronic toys can be engaging and exciting, they leave little room for creativity and expanding on ideas, which can lead to passivity. I often encourage parents to limit their child’s use of video games and electronic toys, and stick with toys that require more creativity or social interaction.
3. Make-believe. Language is a symbol system that requires representational thought. For example, the word “ball” is a symbol that represents an actual object. Representational thought can be developed through pretend-play and make-believe. Additionally, pretend-play also promotes creativity, ideation, language use, and social interaction.
4. Think social. Look for toys that promote interactions with others. This might include a make-believe picnic, a fun game to share with friends, a ball to pass back-and-forth, or pretend toys such as a dollhouse or farm.
5. Create music. Musical instruments are a wonderful addition to your child collection. Pretending to play an instrument not only promotes make-believe, but it also encourages your child’s interest in music. Singing helps children learn various patterns of language, as well as learn to distinguish between different speech sounds.
6. Keep the bookshelves stocked! Books are always an excellent choice for kids of all ages. They promote vocabulary, speech development, listening, language, attention, and of course, literacy. For younger children, choose books that have large and simple pictures. Other great choices including repetitive books (e.g. Brown bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?), or rhyming books (e.g. Llama Llama).
7. Foster creativity. Consider art supplies to foster your child’s creativity. Art supplies such as crayons, sidewalk-chalk and moldable clay are excellent activities to encourage creativity in children.
8. Finally, consider safety. Be sure to read labels and age-requirements of all toys. Choose toys with nontoxic materials, and consider the developmental skills of your child. If your child is younger or enjoys mouthing things, then stay away from small objects that can be easily swallowed or choked on.