What Toys Are Best for Children's Development?
I don't buy into the consumerism-driven idea that we need complicated, entertaining toys to engage our children.
Less is more, simple is best.
Below you will find my favorite simple toys for supporting immersive, independent play and optimal development in young children. I have all of these things in my house, and while I generally have preschoolers around, we often have older guests and all of the children, no matter the age, have plenty to do (and rarely turn to screens).
1. ITEMS THAT ENCOURAGE CREATIVE, INDEPENDENT PLAY
Independent play is amazing for child development (post on this coming soon!) and for parents’ well being.
- Passive toys (toys that don’t DO anything)
- Open ended toys (toys with no set purpose)
- Examples: Blocks (these are cool too!), play silks, balls, stacking cups, metal bowls, wooden bowl, non-battery operated toys (dolls, stuffed animals, wooden or plastic figures), kitchen/cooking/food items.
2. ITEMS THAT ENCOURAGE INDEPENDENCE
Anyone who has been with a toddler for more than five minutes knows that they are very into doing things “MYSELF”. And you likely also know how frustrating this can be for everyone involved. Luckily, there are options to help you give your toddler more autonomy and independence, and save your sanity. Montessori school supply sites are a great place to find items that support independence.
- Examples: small pitcher for pouring water, learning tower for helping with cooking and dishwashing (my handy father built ours), smocks (because: laundry.), child-sized furniture, toy storage that is easy for toddlers to get out and clean up (we like wicker baskets easily found in thrift shops).
3. ITEMS THAT SUPPORT OPTIMAL DEVELOPMENT
As parents, we all want what's best for our kids. We want them to grow up to be happy, healthy, and to learn and grow well. For toddlers, the best thing you can do for this is to offer them lots of time for free, self-initiated play (blog on this coming soon!). This means play that they are driving and you are just “letting” happen. Outside of that, there are a few other things that can help kids develop emotionally, physically, and cognitively.
- Books, books, and more books! Choose them consciously, thinking about diversity of characters, storylines, and stereotypes.
- Gross motor: (amazing for cabin fever in the Winter months): bosu, balance disks and pods, child trampoline, exercise balls, indoor jungle gym, over the door swing set, balance rocks.
- Fine motor: Art supplies, toddler tweezers (forceps), safety scissors, chopping toys, sewing cards.
- Art Supplies
*Note: This post contains affiliate links. This helps support my business so that I can continue to provide support to thousands of families across the world for free through my website, my support groups on Facebook, and my weekly series Lunch Break w/ Laura.