Toys That Encourage Enthusiastic Learning
by Meiling Wong
Toys aren’t just for playing these days. Make your money go the distance by buying toys that encourage enthusiastic learning. Toy expert, Mr. Anthony Frangos, Commercial Director of Mattel North Southeast Asia tell us how.
Providing baby with plenty of well-chosen toys, especially ones that encourage activity and exploration is a good way to reward actions. When trying to decide what belongs in baby’s toy chest, remember that baby’s muscles develop from the top down (head to foot, that is) and outward from the middle of the body. This means that head and arm control emerge before leg and foot control.
Also, progress comes from the center of the body outward; babies can hold their bodies steady before they can manipulate their hands. While it won’t harm them to expose babies to toys before their bodies are totally ready to take advantage of them, it’s best to introduce a baby to new challenges patiently.
Finding products and toys that go at your baby’s pace is the key to raising an enthusiastic learner. By associating fun and play with learning, you will help create a lifelong aptitude for acquiring new skills. The notion of ’cause and effect’ is only the first leap you watch your child take; you’ll be witness to all sorts of other new discoveries as well. Activity centers are an especially fun and effective way to foster your baby’s continual exploration and brain power. These centers combine the independence of stand-up experimentation and countless toys your baby grows with.
Your baby’s passion for learning is an ongoing treat for both of you. As soon as one skill is attained, you’ll be able to see the next rounding the corner. Some parents find this constant acquisition exciting; others feel wistful as their babies grow with leaps and bounds, always missing the last stage. Your baby’s new stages will bring new thrills, new accomplishments, along with new challenges. Be patient and encouraging, and keep that camera loaded!
Mr. Frangos offers these tips on how you can encourage your baby’s learning curve with these Fisher-Price toys:
Toys that encourage language development
Help your baby learn more:
- Talk to your baby as often as you can. As you talk through daily activities, you’ll introduce baby to the basic patterns and rhythms of speech.
- Taking turns is another great activity. Initiate the “conversation”, then listen and wait as your baby gazes back into your eyes and responds with a coo or babble. Say something back to help your child understand the idea of dialogue.
- Mimic your baby’s coos and babbles, which are critical for practicing how to make sounds, learning the ways sounds differ and how they can be combined.
- Start reading to your baby early and instil a love of books. When you read together, point out pictures and encourage baby to point to them, too. Make the sounds of animals in books, or the sounds that other things make.
Toys to enhance physical development
Help your baby learn more:
- In control. As her balance, mobility and coordination increase, your 1-year-old will have better control of the action. Moving around to investigate different features will exercise large motor skills.
- I get it! At this age, your child will quickly grasp how to make the action happen. Make a game of activating lights or sounds— he takes a turn, then it’s your turn. Label actions with words. “You pressed the button and made the lights go on!” “You opened the door and it made a sound!”
- Build excitement – and cognitive skills—with a clue that something is about to happen. “Here we go! What do you think we’ll see?”
Toys that encourage early role-play
- Measuring up. When baby plays with his toy, let him see you using its “real-world” counterpart. Measure something with a ruler and watch your child make the connection between his toy and your tool.
- Sing along with baby’s musical toys. Once she hears you, she’ll want to join in!
- Shaping the day. As you go about your day, reinforce baby’s understanding of shapes. “Look at your plate—it’s a circle, too!”
- Give baby a “taste” of real kitchen equipment. Set out plastic cups and bowls and let him stack and sort to his heart’s delight. Add a spoon into the mix and he’ll make music for you, too!
* This article is brought to you by Fisher-Price.
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