Give the Gift of Learning
Nov 25, 2017
With toy store shelves overflowing and catalogues filled with the latest gadgets, the search for the perfect toys and games can be a daunting task for parents. Luckily, the holiday season provides a great opportunity for parents to give the gift of learning that will last throughout the year!
Children who regularly engage in play are more likely to be emotionally, mentally and physically fit. From a very early age, infants use play to develop motor skills, recognize shapes and colours and improve hand-eye coordination. As children grow, they become more interested in formal games with rules, opponents and explicit instructions.
Here are a few suggestions to help parents identify toys that encourage active learning and make the most of play this holiday season:
Elementary School Students
- Elementary school-aged students are beginning to understand and use strategy and probability skills. To foster these developments, look for board games and computer games, including Connect Four®, Scrabble, Monopoly® and The Game of Life®.
- Science kits, chemistry sets and telescopes help develop critical thinking skills.
- Games like Talkin’ Tango®, Blurt!® and Petcha Didn’t Know® encourage children to pay close attention and practice listening and concentration skills.
- Parents need to recognize their child’s personal learning style, strengths and weaknesses. If children struggle with math, parents can encourage math games and activities to further develop their math skills. If science is a challenge, make science fun with a chemistry set.
- To build, boost and bolster self-esteem, play The Self-Esteem Game™.
- Consider project-based toys such as model airplanes, ships or jewelry kits to help improve fine motor skills. Not only do these projects reinforce motor skills, children also learn to follow instructions and have a project they can work on for days.
- Make playtime a regular part of a child’s routine – at school and at home. Teachers make time for playtime at recess, and parents should make sure playtime is incorporated into their child’s day.
Middle and High School Students
- Teenagers don’t like to think of it as playtime, but even older children are still learning through play as they enter their high school years.
- Science kits become more advanced for older children – and provide an opportunity for children to experiment, be creative and follow directions.
- Encourage a combination of group and individual play – team sports like a baseball or soccer team and individual activities like reading, scrap booking or journal writing.
- Help children improve vocabulary skills with board games such as Dictionary Dabble® and Buzzword®.
- At this age, students may be set in their ways, so if parents want to encourage learning through play, pay close attention to their habits and hobbies. Whether it is music, reading, or painting, match toys to your children’s interests.
While toys and games are fun for children, they also help kids develop valuable skills including imagination, creativity, problem solving and confidence. When selecting educational toys and games, parents are encouraged to consider gifts that are appropriate for their children’s ages and skill levels as well as their specific interests.