It's unfortunate that more people don't know this, but toys and playing are absolutely vital for a person's development. This isn't only true for babies and children, it's just as true for adults. Yes, even adults need to take some time to goof off and indulge their curiosities now and then if they hope to continue growing and changing as human beings (or have you never spent hours and hours researching random topics on the internet, just for fun?).
With the right developmental toys, playtime can be a whole lot more than something kids do for amusement. With the right toys, playtime can be a productive learning process. Every toy a child might become interested in has some potential to teach, as the child experiments and, well, toys around with it, but some of the best toys are the ones that capitalize on a child's tendency to experiment and aim to teach valuable life skills.
Most obviously, we all recognize on sight such educational wooden toys for babies and toddlers as the ring tower, which uses circular, wooden rings of various colours and sizes to teach children about, well, colours and sizes. These toys are excellent for babies and young toddlers still learning how to interpret and interact with the world around them on the most basic levels. There are also the traditional wooden shape blocks which can be dropped into a box through the corresponding holes, and various other classic toys used to teach basic interaction skills.
If you're looking for baby learning toys or toddler learning toys, you may also want to look into baby walking toys to encourage, well, learning to walk. Bath toys are another excellent form of educational baby toys to encourage basic life skills.
For the slightly older child, these kinds of toys are, of course, kind of boring. Once a child becomes interested in learning mathematics or learning to read, it's kind of hard to find tiny wooden blocks all that amusing anymore.
For the child who has surpassed the need for such basic learning toys, there are, of course, toys like Intellective toy laptops, which teach a variety of reading and mathematic skills, and of course, the classic puzzles and kids games, creative toys, such as Lego sets (check out the Star Wars lego toys if your kid's a real space nut), Duplos, Mega Bloks, and build-it-yourself castle and doll house play sets. Sorry for the run on sentence, but the list really does go on and on.
For the yet MORE advanced child, who might consider all that stuff to be children's toys, between the ages of say, 8 and 12 (though each child advances at his own age, so use your own judgment), there are more advanced toys, like model kits and remote control cars toys. Such toys aren't generally seen as being educational, but they do require a degree of construction and maintenance (which can encourage the kind of habits most of us wish we had when we bought our first used car as a teenager).
It's important to know what kind of interactive learning toys are right for your child, based on their level of development and their own personal interests. Most toys will have a suggested age group, but that's all that that really is: A suggestion. Nobody knows your child like you do, so look to provide them with the toys that seem custom built to their specific needs, and remember that, as helpful as playing can be, the best way to nurture a child's growth is by taking time to help them learn basic life skills and indulging their curiosities.
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