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Educational toys - fiction and reality

Educational toys – fiction and reality



Today, when almost every self-respecting parent is concerned about teaching their child to read, count and write as early as possible, to give him initial encyclopedic knowledge, to teach him to speak, count, and sing songs in a foreign language, to know the capitals of different countries and their location on the map, to properly develop the fine motor skills and imagination of the child, it costs nothing for manufacturers of goods for children to put the label “educational” on any toy – after all, demand creates supply.

Even though the topic of child development is no longer new, a wide variety of myths and misconceptions are still associated with educational toys, behind which lies a simple and natural truth. What are these myths?

1. Educational toys should be interactive, electronic, talking, modern.

An educational toy is a toy, the very device of which has a didactic, educational meaning, but this does not mean at all that this didactic function consists in switching buttons and levers. Yes, all these interactive elements can be attractive to a child, especially a small one, at the initial stage of acquaintance with a toy.

But on an insignificant impact on the development of fine motor skills of the fingers and assistance in establishing cause-and-effect relationships, the developing function of such toys ends. 

A truly developing toy for a child, in the exact words of Ushinsky, is one “which he can make a change most diversely.” And how can a child make some developmental tablet, a talking cat, or any other interactive toy with a given set of programs change,

It is enough to compare interactive toys with cubes, pyramids, matryoshka dolls, with a designer and plasticine, to understand the failure of this myth about educational toys.

I am glad that manufacturers of children’s toys are increasingly returning “to the roots”, delighting kids with new types of materials for creativity, unusual designers, high-quality wooden toys, and manuals.

2. Educational toys are expensive.

The maintenance of this myth is beneficial to all participants in the “toy” industry. By the way, this is also beneficial for parents, in a sense, because buying an expensive toy, you feel great relief: “This is how I take care of the development of my crumbs, now he has everything he needs for development!” The developing potential possessed by the most ordinary things that surround the baby at home and on the street is in no way inferior, and sometimes even surpasses that which the store advertised toys carry. For different ages, these are their own “treasures”, and we will not dwell on this in detail here, but every mother should know what development opportunities open up the use of natural and waste material, cereals, and various household trifles, the simplest home-made games, and benefits.

The girl is flying a paper airplane.

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3. Without educational toys, it is impossible or very difficult to develop a child.

Some studies show that in an artificially impoverished developmental environment (children’s homes), children show a significant developmental delay. But the development environment is not only and not so much a toy.

This is, in general, the entire environment of the child, all that and all those with whom and with what he interacts communicates, plays, creates, learns. The mere inclusion of a child in the normal social and everyday activities of a significant adult as an observer and an active participant can “close” the bulk of the tasks of a child’s development.

 4. Educational toys develop the child “on their own”.

Confidence in this “truth” is dangerous for two reasons. Firstly, it is not enough to buy and bring home another educational toy. It is necessary to introduce the child to the toy, to teach him to play with it, to discover its possibilities, to interest the child in the game.

Indeed, often parents buy up a lot of first-class didactic aids like Gyenes blocks or Nikitin cubes, and then complain that the technique does not work, while the aids gather dust on the shelves, barely unpacked. 

Secondly, the possibilities of any toy, game, and, more broadly, activity for the development of a preschool child is always determined by the role of an adult, his active participation in the game with the child.

5. There should be a lot of educational toys.

In fact, in general, if it is possible to use a large number of diverse educational toys to organize games with a child, there is nothing wrong with that. But we are talking about the competent and thoughtful organization of games, and not just about filling space and time with all kinds of toys. 

The developing environment should be logically and conveniently built, it should meet the actual tasks of the development of a particular child, and not be a branch of the “Children’s World”.

Children are learning through play.

6. “And we need this!”

The presence and even effective use of a particular toy by neighbors Petya or Katya do not mean at all that there is an urgent need to purchase the same toy, manual, game for your child. Of course, the experience and feedback of other parents should be taken into account.

But the main criterion for deciding on the purchase of an educational toy should be an understanding of the needs and interests of a particular child, his immediate development zone, inclinations and preferences, strengths and weaknesses.

Summing up, we can say that the topic of educational toys can be considered one big myth, because, as we have seen, it is not toys that develop as such – it develops a joint game, develops an adult who can choose the right toys, competently organize acquaintance and play with them, actively involved in the process of play and learning,

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