6 Ways That Toys and Play Prepare Kids for School and Learning
1) They help with concentration.
In order to complete daily routines and function well our neurological states have to be at optimal levels. Toys and games that promote movement (swinging, running, spinning, and jumping) prepare the nervous system for tasks that require sitting and focusing. That’s why it’s a good idea to engage in some form of exercise before initiating homework each day.
2) They help develop motor skills.
In order to use writing tools and scissors we need to have developed muscles in the hands and stability in the wrists. A strong core and upper body strength are prerequisites for hand strength and stability. Monkey bars, Zoomball, and different throwing games are some examples of ways to build upper body strength and as a result improve fine motor control.
3) They help with visual processing.
Having adequate vision is more than just being able to see. Our brains also have to make meaning of what is seen and help us understand it, also known as visual perception. We have to be able to distinguish an object from another (visual discrimination), and understand where that object is in space and in relation to us (visual spatial skills). Eye spy, mazes, interlocking puzzles, and construction toys are just a few examples of toys, games, and activities that help build these visual abilities.
4) They help develop critical thinking and problem-solving.
Many toys and games inspire problem solving and strategizing. Board games are especially great for developing these cognitive skills. In addition to strategizing and thinking critically, they also teach how to follow directions, take turns, and work patiently towards a long term goal. There are many excellent board games for about every age group. For example: Little Orchard can be played with kids as young as 2, while Pictionary is great for kids who are 8 years old and older. You can even select board games that teach specific cognitive skills like counting, color, and shape recognition or develop scissor skills.
5) They help support social-emotional Development
Children naturally gravitate towards make believe and playing pretend. Imaginative play provides children with opportunity to practice communicating and negotiating with others, and use empathy as they explore different roles, characters, and situations. Although children innately play pretend, toys like costumes, doll houses, puppets, and forts can stimulate creativity and encourage pretend play.
6) They encourage learning of STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, Math)
That’s right! You can address all of these subjects with the right toy or game. From learning sight words to building robots, there are so many incredible toys available that can introduce and reinforce these important educational concepts in a fun and engaging way for every age.