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Toys That Are Good For Kids

How The Right Toys Can Further Develop A Child's Skills

Many toys are good for kids, and the kids don't even know it.

"Toys definitely have a place in helping kids develop," says Dr. Sherry Vinson, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. "The right choice of toys can further improve cognitive, physical and social skills."

Toys don't have to be labeled "educational" to be valuable. The key to a toy's value in a child's development is interaction, she says.

Toys that play simple rhyming songs, encouraging the child to repeat the verse, as well as electronic games that acknowledge a correct answer, are examples of toys that can help development.

But valuable playtime can be much simpler. "Having a parent read the old-fashioned nursery rhymes with a child, even a small baby, helps develop language skills," says Vinson. "What's important is the amount of interactive time the parent spends with the child."

Some toys offer some unexpected benefits. For instance, modeling clay or Play-Doh can help a restless child concentrate. "For the child who's anxious or tends to fidget, having something to occupy the hands, like modeling clay, can increase the ability to listen," she says.

Vinson offers these suggestions:

  • Regardless of the child's mental abilities, remember that the recommended ages on toys are designed for safety reasons. A child may be able to master a toy at a higher age level, but still put small parts in her mouth.
  • Avoid the temptation to use passive toys or videos to keep a child busy. If you're not able to sit down with the child, offer a toy that is interactive.
  • Building sets are a good choice to enhance creativity, fine motor skills and visual perception.
  • Games that require physical agility, like Twister, can also advance teamwork, visual and motor skills.

"The most important thing is to use common sense when shopping for toys," says Vinson. "Look at a toy closely and decide if it offers something that will help your child."

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