Your child’s educational needs and abilities vary according to age, so before choosing some top educational toys for kids, here’s a brief rundown on general learning needs for toddlers and young children.
New-borns to 3 Months Old
Most babies are naturally curious an enjoy learning about the world in the form of new shapes, colours, lights, patterns and noises. Toys in primary colours, which babies this age are able to see more easily than other colours, are recommended, as are toys with interesting textures or associated sounds. Babies also tend to explore their world with their mouth, so having toys that are ‘mouth safe’ is important.
3 Months to 1 Year
At this age, children begin learning how to transfer objects from one hand to another. Soft balls, washable books, plastic blocks with soft edges, musical toys with buttons, and stuffed animals are good ideas.
1 to 3 Years Old
At this age, kids get really active; most begin walking and projects get messier, with lots of dumping and rearranging. This age group needs toys that focus on developing motor skills: simple puzzles are especially important at this age, as are other toys that help children learn how to transfer things, recognize shapes, or snap, button, clasp and shut.
3 to 6 Years Old
At 3 to 6, kids begin playing with one another more, and also engaging in more pretend play. They have improved their motor skills to the extent that they can engage in more advanced activities, such as art projects, electronic games, outdoor toys and musical instruments.
1) Duplo: Made by LEGO, but best suited for younger children, Duplo blocks will encourage hand-eye coordination, creativity and other motor skills important for children to develop. The over-sized blocks are safe for kids of all ages, and can be used from a very young age – as young as three or four months – and up until a child is seven years or older.
2) LeapPad2: Coming loaded with educational games appropriate for children ages 3 to 9 and allows parents to buy additional ‘apps’ at any time, the educational tablet LeapPad2 works in a similar ways to iPads or other tablet computers. The LeapPad2 is durable, easily fits a child’s hands, and has won rave reviews for its ability to help kids develop spacial recognition, improve their counting, and learn many other skills, all while familiarizing them with technology in a safe way.
3) Count & Scan Shopper – Leap Frog: Another award-winner from Leap Frog, this simple collection of toys is made up of a plastic shopping list, 9 plastic food items, a plastic scanner meant to resemble one children might see in a supermarket, and a green shopping bag. The scanner, when held up to the supplied shopping items (numbered and brightly coloured), audibly gives the number or colour in order to help children associate the word with the object and its number. The scanner also plays music and songs associated with the ‘food.’