No batteries required: Why old school toys are best for your child’s development
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By Veruska D’Onofrio
Screens and electronics have become increasingly prevalent in children’s lives.
This is partly because of the necessity for online learning and the baby-sitting needs of parents who have to work from home.
But what about a child’s mental, emotional, and physical development? While devices and battery-powered toys are stimulating with their flashing lights and sounds, they don’t always feed the development of vital skills required to live in the real world.
Toys that move, sing, light up and respond to buttons being pressed keep children entertained, but they are more passive than toys that are not electronic.
According to Philip Galliford, Marketing Manager of toy distributor Solarpop; children need different play patterns to develop particular skills and amusing themselves with toys that are only fuelled by the imagination ticks several developmental boxes.
“There is a concept called 3D brain training that is vital to the development of the brain-body-environment connection. 3D brain training helps to develop reasoning, curiosity, creativity, imagination, scientific and mathematical thinking. It also helps to hone fine and gross motor skills. Construction toys and those that require a child to both follow building instructions and build their own objects freely, have huge long-term benefits,” Galliford says.
Occupational Therapist Lisa Rawstone explains that children need to experience an object with their body in order for them to understand it. “Children need to engage with actual objects in a three-dimensional way in order to develop skills that will be beneficial for them,” she says. “It’s difficult to spatially visualise something in your head if you haven’t felt it with your hands. Play is a gateway for all other skills to develop.”
Toys with which children can create their own movements, sound effects and story line engage them fully. This helps to hone social skills, spatial awareness, body awareness, and common sense. Play that is voluntary and unstructured does wonders for children.
“Children’s lives are relatively structured and schedule-heavy. While routine is necessary for healthy development, allowing children to play freely has its own benefits and if it’s with toys that don’t overstimulate the senses – that don’t beep and move – all the better,” Galliford says.
Old-fashioned play also boosts confidence and self-esteem. Constructing an object out of parts creates a sense of accomplishment. “Once they have constructed an object, doing it again is easier, which leads to the mastery of that skill.
“This propels a child to try constructing different objects and bigger worlds because the activity makes sense and is no longer a tough challenge but a fun one,” Galliford says.
Play also provides the gateway to developing social skills, such as taking turns and dealing with winning and losing. “I highly encourage parents to bring more no-battery-required toys into their children’s toy box, the benefits will pay dividends,” Galliford says.