Now that the holidays are around the corner, people will wonder yet once again, what shall I buy my kids this year? From previously bought toy guns which could potentially encourage aggressive role play, to video games, and other , we have all been guilty of buying expensive electronic toys for our kids, commensurate with their popularity, rather than placing much thought as to how those toys, that we buy for them, would actually contribute and affect our child’s brain development.
Choosing the right toys for your kids – Play has been established to be essential to a child’s development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of our children. Play offers an opportunity for parents to engage with their children while providing invaluable bonding time which our kids have been lacking year after year due to our hectic work and life schedules. Despite the benefits derived from play for both children and parents, time for free play has been markedly reduced for many children and this alarming trend should not be overlooked as to its harmful long term effects.
The question remains does every item we play with has a positive impact on our kids brain development? The resounding answer is NO. On the contrary research shows that some items of toys actually can be harmful to our kids.
The electronic devices we buy as a Christmas or a birthday present keep our kids glued to a virtual screen which might develop hand eye coordination but ultimately does not contribute much to a child’s cognitive development. In fact, research shows that 8-18 year olds consume an average of 7 hours and 11 minutes of screen media per day, an increase of 2.5 hours in just the last 10 years according to the latest CCFC report. CCFC notes that there is a direct correlation between excessive screen time and childhood obesity, negative impact on sleep patterns, psychological difficulties including hyperactivity, negative attitudes towards school in general and poor grades
The choices in the stores for toys and gifts have been endless. Many of the toys offer the same concept of play, yet not many of those available toys on store shelves today really contribute much value to our kid’s brain development. If we are going to let our kids play, let’s make that play count!!! Metal construction toys will be the best choice for your kids to play with.
Jeffrey Trawick-Smith a Professor of Early Childhood Education at the Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic, Connecticut. Stated recently that he was “cautious about recommending specific toys to families”. He concluded that Basic was better and that construction toys were open ended and they could be used in multiple ways and thus were his “recommendation for families” (What the Research Says: Impact of Specific Toys on Play).
Psychologists have determined that a child’s brain development is influenced significantly when a child acts on or manipulates the world around him. Such manipulation is available through the use of Puzzles. When children assemble puzzles they learn to work directly with their environment and change its shape and appearance.
When children add pieces of the puzzle, they are actually learning the connection between their hands and their eyes. The eyes see the puzzle piece, and the brain then envisions how the puzzle needs to fit with other puzzle pieces and each other. Then the brain, eyes, and hands work together to find the piece, manipulate it, and fit it into the puzzle accurately to form the completed masterpiece.
Similar to the way hand-eye coordination is achieved, puzzles provide a great opportunity for children to develop fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are held necessary for handwriting and other important functions as our kids develop.
Also, the skill of effective problem solving is a valuable and important one. As a child looks at various pieces to figure out where it fits or don’t fit, he or she is actually developing this vital skill. A puzzle, can’t be completed by cheating! It either works and fits or it doesn’t. So puzzles teach children how to use their individual minds in figuring out how to solve problems and think in a logical way.
So this year are we going to again purchase toys which are popular and trendy without much added value which coincidentally could harm our kids? or are we going to purchase toys which could teach our kids to interact with their environment, bond, build, act as an engineer (perhaps) and think in a logical way as recommended by experts?
Professor Trawick-Smith further states “What set the highest-scoring toys apart was that they prompted problem solving, social interaction, and creative expression in both boys and girls. Interestingly, toys that have traditionally been viewed as male oriented—construction toys and toy vehicles, for example—elicited the highest quality play among girls. So, try to set aside previous conceptions about what inspires male and female play and objectively observe toy effects to be sure boys and girls equally benefit from play materials”.
Many available puzzles can be acquired online for this holiday season, yet the most compelling solution can be found at Metalbuildingtoys.com. Their mission is to create an engaging, creative and fun alternative to screen time which has been their goal in trying to reverse the alarming trend of excessive electronic screen time use. Their affordable solution has helped thousands of children escape the “zone-out zone” of screen media to become happy, present, and confident builders while silently actually benefiting our kids while they play.
Let’s make this Holiday season count and let’s win our kids back one toy at a time.