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Welcome to Train Table School!

 

Please read these fine articles written to educate parents on the importance of play and toy selection!

Choosing the right toy is easier than you think. It just takes a little time and a little research. Just remember the basics: understand who the toy is for, including the age and gender "

The Basics: Toys
About Toys

Choosing the right toy is easier than you think. It just takes a little time and a little research. Just remember the basics: understand who the toy is for, including the age and gender of the child, his or her interests, and even how the toy will be used. Some toys emphasize simple play patterns, while others stimulate a child's dexterity, thinking, social skills, or educational development. What's your goal?

Toys are for fun, but they also can play a positive role in a child's educational, social, emotional, and physical development. Some of the most widely accepted theories on childhood play habits focus on the powerful influence toys have on development skills. Play is one of the primary ways that children master new and sometimes complex skills. With toys, they can interact with objects for their own amusement while working on cognitive and motor skills, especially important in very young children and kids with some learning or physical challenges.

Toys have the potential for teaching as well. Toys that challenge children may stimulate their capacity to reason and parents should monitor the kinds of toys and images that cross their children's path. Prudent purchases and careful TV monitoring are always advised, but it is especially prudent given the preponderance of toy ads tied to children's programming.

What is play and does it affect a child's development? Playing with a toy with a parent or adult helps babies interact with others and aids in language development. Babies like to play peek-a-boo with toys because they are just learning that the toys exist even when they are not seen or heard. Peer toy play by elementary school students helps them develop a mature sense of rules as well as right and wrong.

Stuffed animals can help a toddler make the transition from infant dependency on mom and dad to more independent play common in early childhood. Preschoolers can communicate problems they are having though their play with toys, even when they can't communicate them directly. Preschool children need to see that they can cause interesting things to happen when they put their mind to it, and playing with toys helps them accomplish that. Toys also empower children by permitting them to control their environment, at least temporarily. Older kids need to see that they are playing correctly and succeeding.

Toy Purchasing

Don't be influenced by toy awards. Many of these seals of achievement and awards affixed to toy boxes are paid advertising. Their claims of having tested the toys sometimes mean that they collected children's opinions. Simulated toy tests sponsored by advertisers are gimmicks used to gain media attention.

Before shopping for a toy, be sure to collect the following information: exact age, personality type, a list of interests and skills, any special challenges that can affect a child's physical limitations and play experience, and current interests.

Suggested types of toys by age:

Infants: Birth through 1 year:

Toys should expose a baby to a variety of experiences: sight, sound, touch (shape, size, texture), and taste (because many times, toys go into the mouth). Bright colors, lightweight toys such as rattles, and squishy toys encourage early grasping, holding, and exploring. Once a child is able to sit up, introduce blocks, nesting cups, stacking rings, and toys that require reaching. For crawlers and early walkers, choose large balls and push-pull toys.

Toddlers: 1-3 years

Physical play should be an important focus. For outdoor play, choose ride-ons, wagons, balls, and sandbox accessories. For indoor play, choose chunky blocks. Large-piece puzzles and toys that allow a child to use excess energy and develop emerging muscle control are also good. At this stage, children like to imitate parents with play food, kitchen sets, housekeeping tools, ride-on cars, sport ssets, baby strollers, and musical instruments.

Preschool: 3-5 years

Children in this group are fascinated with how and why things work. Construction sets, washable crayons and markers, paints, modeling clay, books, and simple board games encourage creativity. Introduce toys that inspire pretend play and allow children to imitate mom or dad to practice life skills. Examples include cash registers, toy telephones, make-believe town sets, doll houses, and furniture.

School Age: 5-9 years

Encourage children to share and introduce toys that teach both team playing and independence. Consider toys that boost self esteem and allow children to use their personality and skills. Choose hobby sets, sports toys, computer software, problem-solving math toys, construction sets with detailed elements, and storybooks with valuable messages. Games and electronic toys are available to help children learn specific skills including counting, matching, and problem solving.

Preteen: 9-12 years

Acceptance from friends and self-esteem are very important to this age group. Toys also begin to seem less interesting to children of this age. Complex construction toys, board games, strategic puzzles, science toys, and activity kits are the best choices. Active and physical play should be an area of focus through team and group sports. Social and intellectual skills are refined through board, electronic, and card games.

Toys for Children with Special Needs

When choosing toys for children with special needs, keep in mind that specifically designed or modified toys are not always necessary. For all children, toys are only props used in play, and the process of play itself is valuable for development of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional skills.

Board games give children a chance to practice turn taking, communication, and socialization skills. They are also great for the whole family to play together. By modifying the rules of the game, such as taking off time limits, enlarging pieces or having partners, toys and games can be made less frustrating for a child with a shorter attention span or motor difficulties.

Communication skills can be expanded through play. For children with language delays, repetition is a plus. Look for books that have repetitive phrases or toys that continually repeat concepts and directions.

Electronic toys feature lots of lights, sounds, and music and are usually a good choice for teaching cause and effect. It's always a good idea to take advantage of Try Me packaging to test quality and sound levels.

Determine the best position for the child to be in to maximize the play and educational value of the toy or game. Toys can be played with in many ways, either seated at a table, wheelchair, or someone's lap, sitting or lying on the floor, or by using a particular piece of specialized equipment.

Look for safety labels, including flame resistant products. Check all toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards. Avoid toys with long cords, sharp edges, and points. All electronic toys should have a secured battery compartment. Always supervise your child's play.

Children will become bored with toys that don't challenge and stimulate them. Conversely, children who try unsuccessfully to play with toys that are too challenging might grow frustrated, disinterested, and upset. Before choosing a toy, it is important to know the child's age, personality type, current skills, and interests.

A few simple measures can help you select safe and appropriate toys for your children. What is appropriate for one child can be dangerous for another. For example, older children should keep their playthings away from younger siblings and playmates that still put toys in their mouths.

Character and Licensed Toys

Licensed toys with a recognizable character, whether animated or humanlike in the form of a television or movie character, are popular because children identify quickly with them. They want the toy with a personality. If you buy licensed character toys, keep in mind the personality. Is it something you approve of? Remember that your child is learning from this personality and might even mimic what it does.

When a child begs for a popular character, be selective. Limit their toy collection to only acceptable personalities. Balance the request with a book about the character or a different toy that encourages skill development.

Toy Safety Tips

Buying safe toys is extremely important, especially when there are children of different ages in the house. Make sure a toy does not have a cord or pull string long enough to wrap around a young one's neck and cut off air supply. Packaging should not have sharp corners or wire ties. Small parts that are less than 3 inches by 3 inches are a swallowing hazard for ages 4 and younger. Keep such pieces out of reach and remind older children to put such items beyond the reach of smaller children. Battery-operated toys should be in a tight, secure compartment. Compartments that require a small screwdriver to open and close are safest. Keep this tool out of reach of children under 12. Talking devices in interactive toys should be securely enclosed. Zippers are acceptable. If you think a toy might be dangerous, remove it from your child's reach immediately. Return it to the store where you bought it. Be sure you have the right assembly tools and batteries to avoid disappointment.

Have a question for us here at LittleKidStuff.com, or maybe you would like to place an order?  Call our toll free number below and we will be glad to help you find the best toy for your child.

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