Why Educational Toys and Good Play are Important for Your Child
My little boy, Braxton is eight years old. He is the youngest of four children, and 8 and a half years younger than his sister. (Yes, he was a surprise baby.) We live out in the country, pretty far away from any neighbors, so he doesn't always have many children to play with.
That being said, it is very important for me to come up with activities for Braxton to keep him busy. I hate to admit it, but Braxton enjoys playing video games as do most children his age, and that certainly can be a boredom buster on rainy days, but what skills is he really learning to help him out in his every day life? Thankfully, knowing how to kill zombies is probably not ever going to come in handy in Braxton's lifetime. It is true that there are some really good educational video games on the market, and that is all good, but where does a parent draw the line?
Technology today seems to be taking the place of good old fashioned play. I grew up with six siblings and we would play dress-up, hide and go seek or just make forts out of boxes. We were very creative! We had to be, we did not have video games, movies to watch and very little TV time. We played outside in the mud, or drew pictures. We actually played with our toys and made the most of what we had.
It seems that the children of today do not really know how to play without sitting in front of a screen. Technology definitely hinders a child's ability to use and develop their creativity. I believe the kids of today do not truly know how to play! It is so very important for a child to learn to play with real, tangible objects. We, as parents must make certain that our kids have plenty of opportunities for hands-on experiences, real life play. Get your child outside on decent weather days! Physical exercise and sports and moving your body is very much a part of play. You can’t do that sitting on a computer.
Look in your kitchen cupboards! One recent rainy day, Braxton was so bored that I decided to put newspapers on the kitchen table, add a couple of dishes of water and cornstarch and let him mix them together to create a really fun (and messy!) paste. We then added food coloring and he made homemade gloopy stuff. We even made crafts out of paper mache!
Toys that have an education value are very important as well. Some people may think that educational toys aren't fun, but that is not true! Out of all of the gifts Braxton received for his 8th birthday party, his favorite toys were wooden building blocks and a math floor puzzle and a pair of binoculars. Educational toys challenge a child to use their minds and develop their creativity. They learn how something works, and it is fun for them to discover new things.
It is time to get back to the basics and help your children learn to appreciate the simple things in life that do not involve technology. In order to make sense of and learn about the world they are living in, children need to have direct experience with it. Playing with educational toys or having positive, fun and engaging playing experiences allows children to use their brain. Technology can be an amazing thing, but stimulating creativity through educational, hands-on play is much more beneficial to a child's ability to develop the skills they require to become healthy, happy and well-adjusted adults.
Disclaimer: All opinions are my own.