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How Play Can Help To Reduce The ‘Covid-19 Learning Slump’ In Younger Children

The covid-19 pandemic has affected both children and adults of all ages and across various socio-economic backgrounds, in a number of different ways. For children and teenagers, it has had a massive impact on education, learning and socialising. This includes the early years – babies, toddlers and preschool age children - where the closure of nurseries and other formal childcare settings during the pandemic has meant that many children have not had access to the same level of cognitive stimulation, nor have they been supervised by professionals with specific training in the early years and developmental milestones – a set of criteria that defines what a child should be able to do at a certain age.

Reaching the milestones forms part of normal, healthy development in children. In cases where children do not reach these milestones, it may be an indication that the child has additional needs. This type of early education, childcare and supervision plays a key role in children’s development and general family wellbeing. The suspension and disruption of normal childhood activities has had a massive impact on the development of social skills and learning for many children - families and care providers in both formal and informal settings are bearing the brunt of this.

how play can help

How Play Can Help

The months of isolation have meant that many children have not only been unable to attend school or nursery, but also lacked the social interactions of meeting friends and extended family, being able to participate in regular social and sporting activities, explore nature and have had little opportunity to play outdoors. This has meant that many of us have spent several months cooped up with few activities, and little or no outdoor space. Participating in play, however, has helped to keep children active and occupied, providing both mental and physical engagement both during and post lockdown.

Play helps to support learning, it teaches children to learn to share, take turns, manage their emotions, and improve their vocabulary. It is perhaps one of the primary forms of socialisation, something which is important for several reasons, as it plays a vital role in regulating our moods and keeping us grounded. It is through socialisation that children learn to regulate their emotions, frustrations, and tolerance.

Participating in regular play with fun and educational toys helps to stimulate learning and cognitive activities, whilst also offering a form of release for any pent-up energy or frustration. Playing with children can also help other adults in the household – the social interaction provides a good mood booster for adults and grandparents.  

Most young children will readily engage in play which can be easily guided by the provision of good quality toys which offer educational, sensory, and creative value.

educational and puzzle toys

Educational and Puzzle Toys

There are numerous different types of educational and puzzle toys – toys of this nature aimed at younger children typically involve assembling the components of a puzzle in a logical way in order to fit or piece together the puzzle. This type of activity offers cognitive stimulation for both children and adults of all ages, provided the puzzle or educational toy is age appropriate. Offering educational toys to your child provides an opportunity to learn at home whilst having fun. The right type of toy can also encourage socialisation, turn taking, sharing and other social skills – whilst at the same time building strength and dexterity and stimulating creativity. Educational and puzzle toys can also help with focus, memory, problem solving skills, fine motor skills, enhanced creativity whilst at the same time providing hours of fun. Find out more on educational toys here.

Sensory Toys

This category of toy is designed to offer babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers the opportunity to explore and stimulate the senses by providing an array of different textures and finishes to touch, varying sounds, lights and in some cases even smell. Sensory toys are specifically designed to activate the senses – for example, a visual toy may light up and flash, whilst auditory toys offer different sounds.

A toy which attempts to activate all the senses at the same time may easily over stimulate a child, however there are many simple, yet highly effective toys which activate individual senses and are beneficial in several ways. These toys can be used to encourage better focus and engagement, hand to eye coordination, to increase turn taking and participation as well as helping to soothe anxiety and destress.

Toys For Your Child

abc wooden blocks

ABC Wooden Blocks

The solid wood ABC blocks feature 6 different faces with letters, numbers, and real-life reminders throughout the design. Each block is hand screen printed and unique - upper- and lower-case letters are used as well as numbers from 0 to 9, and the sixth face of every block painted with objects or animals which can be used to encourage creativity and imagination. These educational blocks are designed to assist in number and letter recognition, language development and counting practice, as well as strengthening motor skills and critical thinking helping to build confidence and dexterity and encouraging early learning in a traditional way.

stacking garden

My Stacking Garden

This 9-piece stacking garden is an educational toy made from repurposed rubber wood, it is designed to develop colour and shape recognition as well as assisting hand to eye coordination and manual dexterity.

activity walker

The Activity Walker

The multi-functional walker is the perfect development tool for growing toddlers, it features 12 different play activities and is designed to build confidence in the early stages of walking, helping to develop the senses through play activities.

andes stacking tower and bag

The Andes Stacking Tower and Bag

This design encourages learning through play by introducing shapes, colours, and animals. It is made up of a collection of 8 wooden mountain animals which are perfectly scaled for toddlers and portable, allowing for easy transportation and play. By stacking the animals until they tumble, young children are able to learn about cause and effect as well as developing dexterity and encouraging shape and colour recognition and language development.

sensory shapes

Sensory Shapes

Offering multiple fun activities to stimulate young and active minds, each one of the 9 sensory blocks has a bright and colourful design and presents a different sensation, from fluffy fabric to jingling bells. This encourages hand to eye coordination and manual dexterity.

shop and cafe

Shop & Café

This award winning two in one reversible stall features a shop and café, complete with a reversible chalkboard and bell. The stall is mounted on wheels and stabilisers making it easy to move around. This toy is designed to help children develop social skills, speech, sharing, and turn taking through imaginative play.

How We Can Help

Le Toy Van is a family run organisation specialising in unique, ethically produced wooden toys which are designed to promote learning, support the developmental milestones whilst providing your child with hours of fun and imaginative play. We offer a wide range of toys which are suitable for both individual and interactive play, as well as structured and free play.

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Child Safe

Our products are crafted to the highest EU/US standards.

Eco Friendly

Created using only the best quality sustainable materials.

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