Non-Violent Educational Toys
The key to choosing the right toy for your child is in developing on their strengths and learning style. When choosing the proper educational toys for our child’s development, some of the first questions we need to ask is, Are they non-violent? and, Do they send the proper message? Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to keep our children completely away from all the weapon wielding animals and shop-aholic mall-dolls they’ll see as they are more and more influenced by media and peers. That being said, we as parents do have complete control over their environment during the first and most crucial developmental years of their young lives. And, there are a number of criteria we need to take into consideration when determining if toys are actually educational and learning specific. By that I mean what specific skills do toys help develop, and can they be used for more than one skill-set.
What as both new and experienced parents should we be considering? We need to first educate and understand for ourselves which skills our children need to further develop and strengthen, as well as which skills to build on. The following is meant as a starting point to lead us in the right direction, to help us understand basic learning styles and to give a better understanding of the benificial aspects of all educational toys we choose for our children. I strongly suggest you continue through the following sections. By taking a closer look at learning styles early, we can help our children develop and learn through play.
-Going back to my highschool years, I recall sitting in chemistry taking notes from Mr. What’s-his-name, barely able to keep up as he dictated from an old beat up green scribbler. He paced up and down the isles trying to cool down after just finishing a senior phys-ed class. Wiping his face with his forearm, sweat would gather at his furrowed brow while he spoke and run down to drip off the end of his nose onto his white canvas high-tops. I nearly failed chemistry that year. My problem? I couldn’t remember half of my notes and lectures no matter how many times I reviewed and crammed when it came exam time. That may sound odd after the description of my teacher, but not once you understand what my learning style is.
The Auditory learning style has the young child most interested in musical and noise-making educational toys. In later years the child will be speaking out their ideas. They enjoy telling stories and jokes and generally find spelling comes quite easily. They can be a good reader but would thrive with books played on a cassette or CD. They can also be musically talented and love to record and listen to themself on tape, have an excellent memory for names, places and trivia and would probably have a rather extensive vocabulary at an early age. Encourage your auditory learner to play word games or to tell you stories while you type it out for them to see.
The Kinesthetic style is one where the child processes knowledge through physical stimuli, they need to touch and feel the world around them. They will be highly active, not able to sit still for very long. Tends to communicate with their body anguage, “talks with their hands”, and would rather show you something than tell you about it. They would be the type of child who enjoys thriller ride at the amusement park and are naturally good at sports. Children who are kinetic learners are unfortunately labelled with attention deficient disorder often times incorrectly. Physical stimulation is the key to this child’s learning. Sign language at an early age will help verbal language development. Toys with a combination of both movement and sound. Acting out scenes and stories themselves or with puppets as a hands-on activity as well as experiments and projects. While reading let them partake in another activity such as rocking, chewing gum or walking around.
With the Visual learning style, your child will have a tendency to visualize things, and learn better through viewing or picturing images. They enjoy drawing and painting, and may be fascinated with machinery. Love building blocks and later puzzles and mazes. Once they hit school they are the child accused of being a daydreamer. Search for educational toys such as memory games to create visuals images and patterns, similar board games are helpful too. Do not put picture books away after as soon as the child begins reading, and when reading together from larger volumes with little or no pictures, pause and encourage imagining the scene, characters etc… at interesting intervals. Have the child write and draw with different colored markers or pencils, or even have them write with pictograms.
Going back to my highschool story above and referencing the list, I was and still am a Visual learner. Today, especially when putting together things for my son, I’ll get out all of the pieces, then read over the instructions Then most times I’ll use the diagram and the “this goes here” arrows to figure everything out. A learning style is basically the way someone prefers to learn, whether consciously or sub-consciously. I say sub-consciously as not everyone is aware they learn better from a certain method, but their brain will work and store information more efficiently with one method over the others. In saying this though, the way you learn has nothing to do with your intelligence or IQ, and there is no correct or incorrect way to learn.
Parents also tend to have a preference for one of these learning styles, but where as these styles are not genetic, it is not unusual for parents to have a different preference. Understanding your child’s style and then effectively choosing the proper educational toys to benefit that style is key. With this understanding you can also learn which style(s) your child needs to strengthen. Today most information presented in schools, approximately 80 percent, is auditory. The unfortunate part of this is that only approximately 10 percent of students learn best through auditory delivery.
On the site attached to this article you will find a toy chart which gives excellent examples of a large number of educational toys all meant to enhance a child’s learning style. Click Our Products and then the Toy Finder Chart. At the bottom right corner of this chart you will see a heading for a Learning Styles Chart. All of the educational toys listed here fall into one of the categories we have discussed above. You can also see here, under Product Awards, that these products have won numerous awards from many different groups and studies.