Essential for every young child’s physical, socio-emotional and cognitive development is play, and play most of the time would involve the child’s use of toys. Here are informative guidelines in selecting a developmentally appropriate toy for a child. Take into consideration developing the 4c’s:“compassion, critical thinking, creativity and confidence; safely and joyfully”.
When we talk of compassion, we talk of empathy. In choosing a toy, we must be able to establish that the toy nurtures childhood by helping the child express emotions, develop concern for others, and practice positive social interaction (between peers and adults) and not have any negative aspects attached to it such as violence. Examples are baby dolls with doll beds, strollers and carriages; soft puppet toys; board books with pictures of animals in natural settings; and toy phones or any toys that promote communication.
Critical thinking skills need to be developed as well in the early years and toys are a great help. Toys selected should be “open-ended” or that the child will be able to play with it in different ways that will give them a chance to figure something out on their own and make them problem-solvers. At the same time they should be able to understand how things fit and work together using eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. Examples are interlocking blocks, puzzles, clay, pull-toys, pictures board games, and gardening tools.
Creativity blooms in early childhood as well, and toys picked should be things that they can create with and will spark the child’s imagination and engage the child in activities such as pretend play, arts, crafts, painting, singing, and dancing. Examples are dress-up clothing, cardboard boxes, finger paint, music, markers and paper.
In building confidence, the toy should offer something new to learn and promote challenges in using it and not getting the child frustrated. It should likewise require minimal adult support. These are toys that will help practice current skills and develop new ones such as balls of different sizes, basketball hoops, art materials, and musical instruments.
To top the 4c’s, we should make sure the toy does not pose potential hazards such as having parts too small, sharp edges, and toxins. The toy must also be fun to play with by delighting, exciting and amusing the child.
1. Dr. Toy (Stevanne Auerbach) (2012), “Why This Toy?”.
2. NAEYC (n.d.). “Good Toys for Young Children”.
3. Zero to Three, National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families (n.d.). “Tips for Choosing Toys for Toddlers”.