The holiday shopping season is quickly approaching and parents, grandparents, and loved ones are already beginning to think about what gifts to get the children in their lives. It is important to keep optimal brain development in mind while choosing that perfect present.
I am frequently asked what toys promote brain development. Many parents also inquire about DVD’s and programs to teach babies to read. My response always is, “Loving interaction and play with real objects is what a developing brain needs most.”
Recently, a report by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child found that:
“Although a varied array of experiences clearly stimulates learning in the preschool years, promotional statements about the superior brain building impacts of expensive “educational” toys and videos for infants and toddlers have no scientific support.”
So instead of buying these expensive toys and programs, look instead for toys that are best for children that do any or all of the following:
· Provides an opportunity for direct interaction and manipulation
· Gives a child a chance to develop something with their hands
· Offers a variety of ways of using the toy or objects
· Sparks imagination and creativity
· Allows the child to repeat a process
· Promotes physical activity
Examples are: Puzzles, building blocks, building sets, crayons, balls, paints, play dough, dolls, trucks and cars, shape sorters, sand toys, bean bags, nesting cups, pretend play sets, water toys, and books!
Opportunities to just play, create, explore, and manipulate objects provides the best opportunities for real learning. When these activities are driven by a child’s own interests this is when you will almost be able to see brain connections being made!
For the full report from the Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University go to: The Timing and Quality of Early Experiences Combine to Shape Brain Architecture