Choosing good quality toys to set up your child for playtime can be a difficult decision for any conscientious parent. We are presented with a somewhat overwhelming choice when toy shopping, making it sometimes tricky to see beyond the attractive packaging, prime shelf position and in some cases, pester power from our children!
Playtime is an essential activity and a child’s main occupation – it helps to facilitate and support their social, cognitive, and physical development as well as providing entertainment. Although most young children are attracted to a wide range of toys and often want anything and everything they set their eyes upon, their choices may not always be the best when it comes to good quality playtime.
There are a number of considerations worth bearing in mind when shopping for toys:
Is the Toy Safe?
- What is the toy made from?
- Was it safety tested?
- If it is painted or decorated, are the materials used non-toxic?
Is the Toy Age Appropriate?
Is the toy age appropriate? During their design phase, each toy is invariably intended for a target age range. This does not only mean age-appropriate safety but also refers to cognitive stimulation – a toy which is too difficult may deter your child from play, whereas one that is too easy will not challenge or support their development.
Does It Encourage Developmental Skills?
What sort of educational value does the toy offer? For example, shape sorters, puzzle toys and stacking toys promote problem solving skills and independent thinking – this type of toy offers mental stimulation, reward and satisfaction whilst enhancing cognitive skills, focus and memory.
Does it Have Sensory Appeal?
Does the toy appeal to more than one of the senses? Sensory toys offer contrasting sounds, textures, colours, mirrors etc. All of which can help to capture your child’s attention and their imagination, as well as helping to soothe the child and lengthen play time.
Does It Support Interactive Play?
One great advantage of many toys is that they can help to prompt and support interactive play amongst children in the same play area. These such toys encourage engagement and social interaction. Many toys can be enjoyed individually or interactively, such as dolls houses, car and train sets amongst others.
Is It an Open-Ended Toy?
An open-ended toy is one which can be played with in more than one way. Building blocks, for example, can be made into different shapes and forms and used to enhance numeracy and literacy skills via printed letters and numbers. They can also be used as stand in props for substitute play items. Open-ended toys also support STEM learning.
Consider Toy Size
How large is the toy? Will it fit comfortably into a dedicated play area? Larger toy sets typically provide entertainment for longer periods of time for obvious reasons, however, larger toys are also more visible in the home environment, making aesthetics an important consideration for some. Smaller toys are transportable and can be used in more than one location – the child can enjoy playing with the toy in different rooms in the house or take the toy to a friend or relative’s house, on holiday and so forth.
Does It Encourage Imaginative Play?
Some toys spark the imagination more than others and encourage children to engage in pretend play or role play – this type of creative play offers numerous benefits in terms of entertainment and development, helping to nurture speech language and communication skills, as well as building confidence and self-awareness. Examples of toys that prompt imaginative play include dolls houses, kitchen sets, food items, shop keeper sets and so forth, all of which offer hours of endless entertainment as well as enhancing social skills.
Is the Toy Fun?
This is of course one of the most important questions – children are all individuals with different tastes and interests. Will the toy of your choice suit your child and keep he/she occupied, providing them with play for extended periods of time? Will it sufficiently capture their attention and is the toy durable? Could the toy be passed down to siblings or enjoyed by other children once your child has outgrown it?
Le Toy Van is a small and highly reputable family-owned company. We have been creating award-winning imaginative wooden toys that are designed to support the developmental phases whilst encouraging long-lasting play, since 1995. All of our uniquely designed and hand finished toys are built to withstand the test of time and be enjoyed for generations to come.
Safety is extremely important for Le Toy Van - our toys are developed in the UK and designed to comply with the rigorous EN-71 & ASTM safety standards.
Our toys are made from sustainably sourced rubber wood; when the rubber tree has reached the end of its natural rubber producing life, it is recycled into an eco-friendly wooden toy; you can find out more on our sustainability efforts here.