I believe that many parents don’t know how to choose meaningful toys for their children, and they are worried that children don’t like what they buy.
Toys are extremely important. Play is the work of childhood and toys are the tools for play. You don’t need to own every toy on the market to have a child who will play well independently… but you do need to own the right toys to help make that happen.
If you want a child who plays independently, open-ended toys are the toys for you. Kids need open-ended toys to imagine with, create with, and grow with. These toys help children learn the valuable social and life skills that will carry them through adulthood – skills like communication, problem solving, and empathy.
Having a set of play dinosaurs might seem random from the outside but once you see all the play kids can do with just a few dinosaurs – you’ll understand why dinos are a good one to own.
You may believe that doll houses are little girl toys. In fact, doll houses are gender neutral. A doll house is home for imaginary play – a place to rescue animals from, to save from a fire, to intricate building skills and to make imaginary set ups. It is a house for kids to practice home based social stories in.
Another good choice is dramatic play, such as doctor’s kit. Empathy skills are a big learning goal in early childhood, and practicing caregiver skills is one way kids grow empathy in play. A simple doctor’s kit (this one comes with a case for easy storage) is a staple. Another chance for dramatic play: costumes!!!! For example: baby shark costume, dinosaur costume, This is a fun collection to grow… grow this slowly and over time.
Remember, we don’t need to own every toy for our kids but the right toys make all the difference. Let’s get those kids back to playing (and ditch the toys that play for them…).