By Veruska D’Onofrio
Screens and electronics have become more and more prevalent in children’s lives.
This is in part due to the need to learn online and the childcare needs of parents who have to work from home.
But what about a child’s mental, emotional and physical development? While battery-powered devices and toys are stimulating with their flashing lights and sounds, they don’t always fuel the development of the vital skills needed to live in the real world.
Toys that move, sing, light up, and respond to pressed buttons entertain children, but they are more passive than toys that are not electronic.
According to Philip Galliford, marketing director of toy distributor Solarpop; children need different play models to develop special skills and have fun with toys that are only fueled by the imagination tick several development boxes.
“There is a concept called 3D brain training that is essential for the development of the brain-body-environment connection. 3D brain training helps develop reasoning, curiosity, creativity, imagination, scientific and mathematical thinking. It also helps to perfect fine and gross motor skills. Construction toys and those that force a child to follow building instructions and freely build their own objects have huge long-term benefits, ”says Galliford.
Occupational therapist Lisa Rawstone explains that children need to experience an object with their body to understand it. “Children need to interact with real objects in a three-dimensional way in order to develop skills that will benefit them,” she says. “It’s hard to spatially visualize something in your head if you haven’t felt it with your hands. The game is a bridge to develop all the other skills.
Toys with which children can create their own movements, sound effects and storylines fully engage them. It helps to hone social skills, spatial awareness, body awareness, and common sense. Willful, unstructured play works wonders for children.
“Children’s lives are relatively structured and busy. Although routine is necessary for healthy development, allowing children to play freely has its own advantages and if it’s with toys that don’t overly stimulate the senses – that don’t beep or move – so much the better ”, said Galliford.
Old-school play also builds confidence and self-esteem. Building an object from parts creates a sense of accomplishment. “Once they’ve built an item it’s easier to do it again, which leads to mastery of this skill.
“It pushes a child to try to build different objects and bigger worlds because the activity makes sense and is no longer a difficult challenge but a fun one,” Galliford explains.
The game also helps develop social skills, such as taking turns and dealing with wins and losses. “I strongly encourage parents to bring more battery-free toys into their children’s toy boxes, the benefits will pay dividends,” said Galliford.