Playing with toys is something all growing babies and children do, and an activity that constantly surrounds them in social settings. As small humans begin to take in the world around them, everything from a set of blocks to the television remote is new, exciting, and fun. But what happens that adults and parents don't see is the brain's development in these seemingly priceless moments of discovery.
The brain forms countless connections in the early years. These connections create networks and contribute significantly to how a child interacts and perceives the world around them. During regular use of these networks, the brain experiences the process of pruning. Some skills are used more than others, while some are put on the back burner.
Let's dive into why toys are important for brain development and how you can foster the right environment!
What Babies and Children Learn During Play
Often, adults assume that a young child playing isn't that important or that they aren't developing anything because of the toy's quality. But regardless of what a child has in their hands, they are developing many things. Every experience with something new or fascinating can create much-needed connections and foster skills, including:
- Exploration of new objects
- Understanding how things work
- Practicing and mastering existing skills
- Decision-making skills
- Stress management
- Trying new roles
What You Can Do To Foster Learning
Toys are child-led, so fostering an environment is the best contribution you can make to the process of play. This key element will provide the space to move freely, but it always shows young children that they are free to express, explore, and learn how they feel necessary with each toy.
Below is a quick list of ways to set up an environment suitable for playing with toys:
- Allow space to explore. Often, you mean well, but hovering can discourage children from independent exploration. Allow them to try things for themselves and wait until they ask for help before intervening.
- Support their playing. By showing children something else a toy can do, you support their learning and give them multiple ways to explore a toy.
- Ensure there is quiet time. Overstimulation can hinder a child's ability to soak in the task at hand. Eliminating distracting noises and background commotion can allow them to relax and fully process what they're doing.
- Provide new experiences. It will feel natural to gravitate toward staying at home, but taking developing minds to new places to soak in new sights, materials, and language can encourage their learning and enhance their development.
There are no right or wrong ways to play with toys; in fact, many toys have multiple ways, which only improve and expand a child's development. An excellent toy for an evolving range of play is Super Wings transforming toys.
These toys are tremendous for growth for various reasons, from sizes available to their transforming characteristics. Here's an overview of some key developments and milestones of cognition that children gain from playing with toys.
Imagination and Creativity
Stretching the imagination comes naturally when playing. Paired with creativity, this skill helps children boost confidence and express themselves. Additionally, they can enter a form of play called “symbolic play” through their imagination. This is when one object becomes another via their imagination. For example, a leaf becomes a notepad, or a branch becomes a pencil.
Unstructured play allows for a child's cognitive growth to improve. They are not bound by a schedule or rules and are free to imagine. This contributes to a healthy brain and allows connections to form without pauses, kinks, or hesitation. This process helps develop the prefrontal cortex, the center of problem-solving skills and environmental awareness.
Emotional and Behavioral Benefits
Adults will retreat to a safe space when they experience overwhelm, and children will do the same. The frequency of play for children can help them manage their emotional behavior and reduce anxiety and irritability. Toys also teach children to work in a group, negotiate, and resolve conflict, specifically when playing with others.
Playing with handheld toys like Super Wings also helps develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination in children. This will encourage them to write and communicate through written language. These skills are all directly linked to reading comprehension.
And in school, children will perform better when allowed to have unstructured play. Curiosity fosters a mind that is eager to learn.
Unfortunately, children don't have a lot of control over their day-to-day schedules. However, they are fully in control of the mood, scene, and toy's actions during play, allowing them to grow these skills. They are often told what to do, where to go, and when to do things; by playing with their toys, they experience a sense of independence. Specifically, when a child is in solitary play, they have an increased ability to take the reigns in how the situation will play out.
Promotes Physical Attributes
If you've ever wondered why your child is hyper or constantly moving, it's because they are wired to be active. Creating the space to encourage physical play with their toys is essential. It might feel like sitting them down in the playroom is appropriate, but you should also encourage them to go outside and take the toys with them.
A key reason why toys are important for brain development is their mobile quality, rather than forcing a child to remain in the same location. Because there is no right or wrong way to play, the chances of receiving enough physical play outdoors with their toys are much higher than if they remain inside, restricted to the same space.
Physical play also supports other things, including:
- Sharpened reflexes
- Improved balance
- Improved gross motor skills
- Motion control
- Increased cardiovascular function
Always remember there are no right or wrong ways to play—as long as it happens. When you provide your child with an environment, they feel safe to explore it and learn from their experiences. Also, allowing them the opportunity to explore independently can help further enhance their skills.
To learn more about our toys and how to help your children expand and grow their minds, connect with us today!