With the increased presence of technology in children’s products and toys, you may have come across the term smart toys. […]
It is commonly
known that the holiday shopping season is very important to the toy industry.
Just last year U.S. retail sales of toys topped $18 billion. Interestingly, there is
a trend that could save you money instead of having you spend it if you gift
your child the opportunity to embrace his or her creativity. The biggest theme
from this year’s Toy Fair in New York seemed to be maker toys, playthings that
encourage children to create, innovate, and design which they make and modify
with their own hands. These toys often consist of constructional pieces and may
include initial instructions to start a project but also allow for a child to
take on the challenge to create something new.
occupational therapist, I am in the position to play with children daily to
prepare them for the responsibilities they face in school and at home. I
consistently recommend to parents constructional toys and craft activities
because the benefits are numerous. They improve the developmental skills of the
hands, enhance thinking and strategy skills, keep a child engaged for long
periods of time, increase self-confidence and self-esteem, and are fun and
educational simultaneously. These benefits are not only good preparation for
their childhood learning but for their future. Many businesses are now
employing concepts like design thinking and prototyping to solve problems and
improve products and services. In November, the city of Miami hosted Miami Make
Week, where individuals signed up to join teams to make innovative solutions
for the home that save resources. Participants also attended workshops and
lectures on additional topics including robotics, 3D printing, software
development, and traditional craftsmanship. It is great to see that this is how
the future leaders of the world will be working, using creativity involving
both the mind and the hands.
For this year’s
holiday season, I invite parents to think outside the traditional wrapped box
and consider giving your child an open box full of items to create with
including: cardboard, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, paper clips, construction
paper, glue, markers, tape, scissors, and aluminium foil just to start. If this
is too abstract or your child is too young, consider buying constructional toys
or maker sets that give your child the chance to be creative and build. There
are many brands like Lego, ThinkFun, WabaFun, and Funnybone Toys selling
products that encourage the imagination and can turn your little ones into the hard-working,
toy-making elves they are meant to be.
I hope you find
this tip helpful. If your child struggles with activities with that involve
planning, creating, building, assembling, or completing age-appropriate tasks,
talk to your pediatrician about consulting with an occupational therapist. Have
a playful day!
Amy Baez, OTR/L, The Smart Play
Amy Baez is a pediatric occupational
therapist, award-winning handwriting author, and founder of Playapy. For more
information about Playapy services and products, visit www.playapy.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
***Check out this video for some inspiration.***
Recently I was having a
conversation with a mother of three children under the age of six. She explained
to me that one of her current concerns is that the new preschool her
three-year-old was attending sends him home with homework. She was initially
shocked and confused considering her older child did not have this demand. Her
resolution was to adopt the saying from the 1980’s war on drugs campaign and to
“just say no” to the pressure this preschool was putting on her child. I
applaud her and encourage others to do the same.
Over the past ten years I
have seen as increase in the demands placed on preschoolers to perform tasks
that used to be introduced in kindergarten. I have had countless conversations
with parents explaining that one of the reasons their child cannot complete the
work given is become it is not developmentally appropriate. My resolution also
was to “just say no” to the caretaker because there is no rule that homework is
mandatory. In fact, the National PTA and the National Education Association created
a 10-minute Rule established after extensive research from Duke University. The
rule recommends that 10 minutes of homework is suggested starting in 1st
grade and adding another 10 minutes per grade. Therefore Kindergarten students
should not be issued any homework. Other research has also shown that an
overload of homework is associated with a decrement in performance. As a
therapist, I have noted that some children also suffer from decreased self-esteem
and stress on the small joints of their hands from too many expectations. Yet,
despite this rule, the average Kindergartener was found to be completing 25
minutes of homework daily.
How should you handle the
pressure to do homework in preschool? You can keep calm and politely let the
teacher know that your child will not be completing any homework at this age.
Instead you will spend the time playing. According to Jay Giedd, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego,
most kids younger than 7 or 8 are better suited for active exploration than
informational or educational explanation. He states, “The trouble with
over-structuring is that it discourages exploration.” Hence, parents should take the time after school to
engage with their child by participating in playful exercise and activities
that improve and encourage creative, social, and fine motor skills like
building with toys, coloring, drawing, assembling, and even food preparation.
I hope you find this tip
helpful. If your child is having difficulty with age-appropriate activities for
a preschooler, talk with your pediatrician about consulting with an
occupational therapist for help. Have a playful day!
Amy Baez, OTR/L, The Smart Play Curator
Amy Baez is a pediatric occupational therapist,
award-winning handwriting author, and founder of Playapy. For more information
about Playapy services and products, visit www.playapy.com
or email email@example.com.
We support this idea even though we do sell and recommend some toys and games.