How playing with toys can improve your child’s language skills and self-confidence

This is why toy time can be a fun and educational experience.
Boy holding rocket toy

Toys are great for keeping your kids occupied and out of your hair, but they can also play a huge part in their development.

Here are just a few reasons whey they’re important:

  • They help to develop your child’s language skills. Often their first words are connected to their favourite toys. They can also learn to express themselves by giving their toys voices.

  • They help children with both their fine and gross motor skills, right from those very early days when they first grasp a rattle (a fine motor skill). Then attempting to put the rattle in their mouth is an example of early development of gross motor skills. Toys can further develop coordination, balance and development of muscles.

  • Children learn about cause and effect from playing with toys – for example, if you shake a rattle it will make a noise, and later on, if you push your toy car, it will move across the floor. This is known as the art of cognitive thinking.

  • Toys encourage children to think situations through and solve problems. Using building blocks to a house requires planning and trying different solutions of ways of incorporating features, such as spaces for windows.

  • Playing with other children can help them learn to share their toys and to socialise.

  • They help babies to learn about shape, colour, texture and sound, and can also stimulate vision.

  • They can help toddlers to deal with emotions and build self-confidence. They can get a big boost to their self-esteem when they finish a puzzle or put together a Lego project.

  • Toys encourage children to use their imagination.

  • They can help them to understand real life. Coming up with different scenarios for a family of dolls, for example, can involve role playing and make them think about their own family’s situation. It gives them a sense of control.

  • Toys can provide a sense of satisfaction and achievement that children don’t get in other areas of their lives.

One of Kiwi kids’ all-time favourite toys is the Buzzy Bee, which has been a staple in many New Zealand houses for generations.

A survey by toy experts came up with a list of the top toys over the decades. How many of these do you remember?

  • Rubik’s cube

  • Cabbage Patch Kids

  • Sylvanian Families

  • Nerf

  • GI Joe/Action Man

  • Silly Putty

  • Etch-A-Sketch

  • Transformers

  • My Little Pony

  • Star Wars figures

  • Matchbox cars

  • Slinkies

  • Play-Doh

  • Fuzzy Felt

  • Barbie

  • Super Soaker water gun

– Top toy: Lego

Watch: Son chooses Ariel doll from toy store and his dad has the best reaction

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