Throughout the year, for holidays or birthdays, many of us are shopping for toys and thinking about what’s best to buy. When it comes to little ones it can be easy to fill the literal or virtual shopping carts right up. Before you shop, read this list of dos and don’ts so that you’ll be getting the most fun and learning out of what you buy:
1) DON’T get hung up on gender.
Parents get so hung up on what are girl versus boy toys, but I’d like to make an announcement, “DOLLS ARE FOR BOYS TOO”! So are dollhouses. AND, so are kitchen sets. These toys have been given a gender assignment that makes no sense developmentally. Young children beginning to develop pretend play know about things like feeding, washing, sleeping, and cooking because this is what they experience all day.
Realistically, most boys haven’t experienced too much about real race cars, trains, and outer space. While those subject areas are certainly of interest and will most likely develop at some point, early learners are concrete, not abstract. Those subjects your child has not yet lived. Little ones can play the most about the things they know the most about and those are things that go on around the home.
Plus, don’t we WANT to teach our boys to hold babies and to rock them, to make soup, or give the dog a bath in the bathtub? Fathering is an important part of learning to grow up for boys and we shouldn’t be steering them away from that initially.
2) DO pick toys that will grow with your child.
You know those push button, noisy toys, that target a specific skill? You know how you can’t wait to get them out of your house once your child has tired of them? Well, don’t bring any more of those into your house then.
You want toys that will last with your child as he grows and as his play and language grows. With good toys you can target endless words and fill endless pages of your child’s story. A noisy toy may just target letters and colors. A really great toy like a dollhouse will work on “eat”, “sleep”, “upstairs”, “refrigerator”, “daddy’s sleeping”, “the dog is dirty”, “the mail is here”, “what should we have for dinner”, and “where should the baby sleep?”.
3) DO pick toys that your child can do things to, but DON’T pick toys that do too much stuff on their own.
With all of those noisy, push-button, toys it’s assumed that your child is pushing the button and then staying around, tuning in, and comprehending what the toy then says or does in order to “teach” your child one of the SCLANs (shape, color, letters, and numbers). Instead let’s pick toys where our child can DO more than push a button. Let’s pick toys where our child can stack, put in, ride, shake, stir, talk, pick up, look at, read, and pretend. Doesn’t that sound more like play then pushing a button? Doesn’t that sound like a toy your child could actually learn something from?
4) DON’T get hung up on SCLANS.
Have I convinced you yet not to worry about SCLANS? I don’t want to bash them, but parents are just so inundated with the message that teaching their child means bombarding them with academic concepts. It’s just not true. So much more goes on in language development. So unless your child has a solid vocabulary of at least 100 words and is using 2 word phrases, forget the SCLANS. Instead pick toys that let you focus on filling the pages for really powerful words like “open”, “eat”, “drink”, “up”, “go”, and “shoes”.
5) DO be a minimalist.
I love The Minimalist Mom’s blog. It’s a reminder that having less stuff can give you more happiness, as you’ll have more time, money, and space when you don’t give all of those things away to your belongings! I will be referencing her later this week when we talk about what the play areas should look like in your home, but for now just start thinking about how less is more. When your child has fewer things, he takes more time with each thing and gets a deeper understanding of that object. Your child gets more marks on that page, instead of fewer marks on 100 different pages. Think about what your child REALLY would enjoy, learn from, and will be lasting, before you buy too much stuff.
Basically, these are the Toy Rules…
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After reading this post, would you consider buying a boy a doll or dollhouse? Where’s your favorite place to shop?