For the past couple weeks, I’ve been researching about OT (Occupational therapy) toys age appropriate for Kitana. Honestly, there’s just so much information out there, it is overwhelming!
When my child comes to me and says, “Mommy, I’m bored! I don’t have anything to play with!”, even when she has a room filled with toys… I’m worried!
TV is not a “toy” choice.
Technology has become such a big part of our lifestyles that many kids don’t know what traditional play is anymore. I’ve limited Kitana’s screen time because I’ve realized how addictive YouTube unboxing videos are (no idea why 3-year-olds love this).
According to a recent research publication in Britain, 25% of children aged 2-5 years have smartphones while 56% are aged 10-13 years. Further studies in the US revealed that over a third of children under the age of 1 year are using smart devices.
Did you know that increased screen time leads to a higher need for OT therapy?
I want to be able to help my daughter choose a toy or game from her cupboard that I know will give her hours worth of fun. But, what makes a toy a good choice?
You need to consider the following when toy shopping:
- How old is your child?
- What is her/his interests?
- What do they like to do?
Then you need to judge the toy you have in mind:
- Is it safe for my child’s age? Follow the guidelines on the back of the box.
- Does it capture my child’s interest?
- Is the toy appropriate for their age and abilities?
- Can my child use it alone or does the toy need another person?
- What kind of activities will it encourage?
Toys are an important part of your child’s development even though many of us think they such a waste of money. It encourages children to use their imagination and allows them to gain self-confidence. As they play with a toy, they develop a sense of power when they complete a task. “Look, mom, I can do this.” It is important we recognize this accomplishment and applaud them for it.
They need to have bright-colored toys of many textures.
Babies are interested in looking at toys, touching them with their hands and mouth, fitting pieces of things together and making sense of their worlds.
Choose toys that they can look at, feel, chew on, hold, and drop. Once they start crawling or walking, they will enjoy push-pull toys and balls. Appropriate toys include rattles, blocks, crib mobiles, stacking toys and rings, stuffed animals or dolls, books with rhymes, simple picture books, noise making toys, small soft toys for throwing, and music-making toys.
Early childhood development is an integral part of the acquisition of concepts, skills, and attitudes that lay the foundation for lifelong learning. Children need to learn from a very young age how to react to the world around them, and playing with toys like dolls and action figures can help with understanding feelings like empathy.
According to registered Occupational therapist Dana Katz, educational toys, especially those that support fine motor, visual perceptual, planning and problem-solving skills can help to develop more refined, higher level learning skills. “Skill development is essentially like building a pyramid, if the lower building blocks are in place, we can continue to build on that skill. ”
How to identify if your child needs OT:
For many parents, knowing what to look out for in their children when assessing their needs for further skill development or occupational therapy can be daunting. Dana Katz advises that generally, if a child does not enjoy an age appropriate game or activity, has difficulty engaging with his peers in play, is unable to participate actively in everyday classroom tasks and is struggling to develop independence in age appropriate tasks at home, i.e. play, dressing, feeding, toileting etc., there may be a deficit or delay in skill development. She also explains that often children’s resistant, controlling or avoidant behaviour can be the first sign that they are finding something challenging.
For those who have recognised some of these signs and whose children are perhaps already in occupational therapy, there are a variety of toys and role play exercises that can further assist in building essential skills while in the home. “Putting some time aside each day for children to engage in these activities and can really help with furthering a child’s development, and ultimately enrich their experience in the world around them,” says Grant Webster, COO of Toy Kingdom.
Types of toys that can assist in a child’s development at home:
• Toys that encourage problem-solving – Lego and building blocks are a good choice for developing children’s motor and problem-solving skills, as it gives them a chance to try and figure things out for themselves. It’s important to also consider toys that will help build strength in children’s hands, such as, play dough scissors. This strength will be necessary to take on writing among other daily activities.
• Things that feel ‘weird’ – toys with sticky or slimy surfaces help children to experiment with texture. This can be beneficial in ensuring children are more open to putting textured food in their mouths and are also a great way for them to get their hands working.
• Toys that require the use of both hands – learning to use both hands well can help with colouring, cutting and writing. Winds up toys are a good example or even simply tossing and catching a ball.
• Toys that encourage pretend play – fantasy and play have long been used to stimulate creativity as well as social skills in children. By pretending to do or be something different, the child is practicing both verbal and non-verbal communication, harnessing the skills to socialise and cooperate with other children and adults. Toy kingdom’s Shopkins range is a perfect set-up for children to play with pretend food and enjoy make-believe scenarios.
For more information on toys available visit www.toykingdom.co.za
Competition coming soon! 😉