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How to Choose The Best Educational Toy for Your Child

When you want to buy the best educational toys for your child for the holidays or a birthday, it is essential to understand the tips recommended by experts. Educational toys can teach your child numerous mental or physical skills, and by having these toys in your home you are improving your child's development. Here is how you can select a great educational toy for your child. 

Educational Toy Tip 1: Age of Your Child 

The companies that manufacture educational toys will list the recommended age range for the item on its box. It is important to avoid buying a toy for a toddler that is designed for an older child, but if you buy a toy for a young toddler, then she may still benefit from it at an older age. One example of this is having blocks for a toddler so that she can develop her small motor skills of grasping items in her fingers to stack the items in a tower. However, if you choose blocks that have letters of the alphabet, then you can continue to use the blocks for a kindergarten-aged child who is learning her letters. 

Educational Toy Tip 2: Is the Toy Safe? 

If you buy educational toys from well-known manufacturers, then the item is likely tested to meet specific safety standards. Some of the safety regulations include using nontoxic materials to prevent skin contamination or poisoning incidents. An additional concern is not having a toy that is a choking hazard because it has small parts that can enter a child's throat. Infant and toddler education toys shouldn't have fabrics that can degrade from chewing that can lead to choking from fiberfill. You should avoid buying any toys that having flying projectiles or sharp components. It is important to follow the age recommendations labeled on the box and instructions of the toy to avoid choking or swallowing hazards.

Educational Toy Tip 3: Is It a Versatile Toy? 

You will want to have educational toys that are versatile so that a child will play with the items numerous times. If a child is bored by a toy, then the item will sit on a shelf after being played with only one time. Think carefully about how your child can use a toy in multiple ways rather than only playing with it for a few days. Toys such as plastic beads or tiny blocks that snap apart into different shapes are usable for many years, making its purchase worthwhile. 

Educational Toy Tip 4: Can a Child Role-play With the Toy? 

Pretending is one of the best ways to stimulate your child's mind, and role-playing toys promote a variety of thinking skills. Toys such as dolls, plastic farm animals and miniature buildings promote creativity and imagination. Additional role-playing toys include pretend physician's bags that contain plastic medical instruments or play kitchens that have dishes and pans. With these types of toys, children explore new careers as they pretend to be adults. 

Educational Toy Tip 5: Will Your Child Like the Toy? 

Your child may have particular interests, especially after they begin school. If your child displays musical abilities, then choosing a toy that creates or plays music is important. Toys that jingle or make music can help your child develop his sense of hearing. You can find crib mobiles and balls that create music, but older children will like having miniature instruments that they can play to make music. 

Educational Toy Tip 6: Understand Your Child's Development 

Each child goes through developmental stages at a different pace. If you can recognize the signs of different developmental stages, then you can stimulate your child's brain. Alternatively, you might have a child with special needs who requires additional stimulation to development his motor or social skills. If you are looking for an educational toy that will help your child's development, then read the labels on packages or complete some online research to find items that are designed for increasing problem-solving, communication or fine-motor skills. 

Educational Toy Tip 7: The Cost of an Educational Toy 

Unless you are wealthy, you will need to consider the cost of an educational toy. If you want to have affordable educational toys, then shop at stores that have sales or coupons. Don't buy a toy until you comparison shop to determine if it offers value for your children. It is acceptable to buy used toys at charity shops or garage sales, but make sure that it meets proper safety standards. Remember that having only a few high-quality toys is better than filling a toy box with useless items that offer no benefits for your child.



Brittany Waddell is a contributing writer and media specialist for The Stem Store. She often produces content for a variety of educational blogs.

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It’s safe to say we’re all aware that a family holiday is a good idea but just what are the actual benefits?  Let us introduce you to some research findings and scientific facts which establish exactly why you should prioritise a family holiday, from strengthening relationships to improving your health.  Just in case you need any other excuses to getaway!

Breaking up the norm

A family holiday should be all about treating yourselves to a refreshing break from your normal habits and day-to-day life. According to an article published in TES by Elizabeth Buie, a staggering two thirds of conversations between parents and children revolve around their daily routine.  A holiday away provides the perfect opportunity to break this conversation cycle and have more engaging exchanges with your children, plus gives you more time to get to know their individual personalities and notice how they’re growing, changing and developing as people.

Taking a step away from your established family routine whilst on holiday may help you spot what is (or indeed isn’t) working in your regular patterns at home; providing you with the head space to see how you might make changes when you return.  This kind of refreshed thinking can have a really positive impact on how your family interact and communicate on holiday, and of course once you’re home.

Making time to play

Time away from the stresses, work commitments and time constraints of day-to-day home life will allow you much more free time on holiday to reconnect and enjoy hanging out with your children.  In light of a sobering statistic in a Telegraph article which cites that 65% of parents say they only play with their children occasionally, we should definitely grab the opportunity on holiday to play lots more!   Play should be a crucial part of childhood as it helps kids learn patience, improves their problem-solving skills and encourages creativity.  Spending time playing with your child also reinforces to them that they are loved and appreciated.

Playing is important for adults too!  A third of fathers say they don’t have time to play with their children and one in six fathers say they don’t know how to play with their child (Playmobil UK survey) but it’s worth remembering that playing has the same benefits for grown ups.  It’ll work the same cognitive skills as children, such as problem solving and creativity, whilst also acting as a massive stress reliever and help you feel more connected to your child.

Building memories

Research from the Family Holiday Association has shown that 49% of Brits have created their happiest memories whilst being on holiday with their family.  Furthermore, nearly a quarter (24%) of people surveyed said that they call on these happy memories when times get tough. 

Family holidays take you out of your usual routine and this tends to mean your surroundings and experiences make a deeper impact on your consciousness.  Fun family times together creates good memories and, according to research featured on the BBC, positive memories are scientifically proven to stick around for longer than bad ones.  Time to start having lots more fun it seems!

Boosting health

Family holidays are healthy!  Focusing on our physical health is becoming ever more front of mind for most of us, but research (Holt-Lunsted et al, 2015) has highlighted that our ‘relationship health’ also has a massive impact on our physical health.  Family holidays can improve relationships between family members with improved communication, relaxed time together and the joy of shared experiences.   In addition, family holidays naturally tend to involve “Green exercise” i.e. being active outdoors – which has been proven to give mental and physical wellbeing a real boost.  Connecting with nature, by all accounts, has a whole heap of benefits - from improving your mood and giving you a confidence boost, right through to helping your body produce more virus and tumour fighting white blood cells.  

Strengthening relationships

A family holiday provides the perfect opportunity to strengthen (or indeed rebuild) relationships between loved ones.  Research shows only 1 in 4 children talk to their parents about “something that matters” more than once a week.  A family holiday gives you the time and relaxed setting to chat about things other than day-to-day chores, homework or what’s for dinner.  

Although technology means we’re more ‘in touch’ than ever before, nothing beats physical time together.  Spending close time with family members gives you the chance to develop a much closer understanding of each other through body language, subtle nuances, gestures and facial expressions that just aren’t possible via text or Whatsapp!

All in all, spending time together as a family on holiday simply provides you all with the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company, giving them the reassurance they are loved and creating fabulous memories for you all.

Thanks to Nelson Holidays for this blog

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