Play is the child’s work, and toys are their tools. Just like adults who take up their work and jobs seriously, children also take play seriously because this is where they are independent, creating their own rules, and playing towards their own objectives. It is obviously every parent’s desire to ensure that they get the right tools for their little ones. With so many toys in the market parents find it difficult to decide on which toy would be the best for their child.
Here are 8 factors to consider when choosing the best toys for children. We hope the tips will be useful to make decisions on which toy is the best for your precious ones:
- Purpose: Children love toys where they can see or absorb the purpose. When you ask a child to run around the house because they will become stronger, they do not see much meaning in it. But if you keep a basket of balls in one corner, and ask them to put it in one by one into another basket kept at the other corner, children will jump to it because they see the purpose and hence the excitement sets in. While purchasing or choosing from a selection of toys one should always remember the difference between a toy with no objective and a toy serving an objective. An objective oriented toy will stimulate the senses in a child, giving a chance to explore things around.
- Value for Money: With prices for many toys being high because of an associated “brand” value, it is wise to see if the toy really is worth the money paid in terms of entertainment or learning for the child. Check if the toy is relevant from an age as well as cultural perspective.
- Simple Toys: In the era of digitization, toys are getting more confusing and complex day by day. The golden rule for young children is that the simpler it is, more likely that they will enjoy it. Complex toys could potentially confuse the child by giving too many inputs simultaneously. So simple. Yet challenging is the mantra.
- Appeal: Fancy super colourful and filled with imagery could hit the eyes initially, but children are likely to just ignore all this after a couple of times of playing with it. What will excite them is the challenge. Classic examples are tops which have metamorphed into the savvier beyblades & fidget spinners. This catches the fancy of all older children, because they enjoy the challenges that these toys pose. For the younger children, wooden toys score really high on this factor of appeal. Children long to touch, carry, use and explore when given a good looking wooden toy. The appeal factor is like the proverbial "cherry on the cake", an additional advantage for the toy.
- Age Appropriate: Many a time when the toy bought has all the features that an individual is looking for but somehow it has not taken the child’s fancy fully. Usually the reason for this is that it may not be age appropriate. In the initial years every phase for a child is critical, and every age group has some milestones to be fulfilled. So if the toy bought for the child is not appropriate to his or her age, he or she will either get bored fast if the toy is below their age or they may get irritated if the toy's complexity is too much for them to handle. It is always wise to match children's age to the appropriate toys to make their time joyful and interesting.
- Safety: This is obviously of the greatest concern. When a child is offered a toy he or she understands it as a play thing to be explored in any way they like, sometime even by putting in the mouth. Unaware of any dangers dues to sharp corners, the paint used on the toy, they choose experiment with the toy. Keeping all this mind it is necessary to look for preferably CE certified toys.
- Battery Operated Toys: Battery operated toys are typically metal or plastic toys. These will obviously need periodic battery replacing. This is environment unfriendly both in terms of the battery as well as the outer metal/ plastic case as well. Battery operated toys also tend to take away the manual element in toys which young children need. Pressing buttons to move cars is less preferable to moving the car around manually.
- Discovery and Exploration: While purchasing a toy, ensure it provides ample opportunities to explore and discover. Learn through play will be done only when a child starts discovering the toy, uses his or her creativity and imagination to play from it in different forms.
Toys are an essential element in a child's life and the more they fulfill the above requirements, the more likely your 4 year old is going to enjoy them!