It is no secret that the brain of a child is a sponge, and massive amounts of psychological development happen during early childhood – or before the age of eight. Playing with toys is the first opportunity a child has to explore and interact with the world on their own terms, and through doing this children experience a wide variety of psychological benefits.
Some toys – like Lego’s and Building Blocks – help children develop math, science and problem solving skills. Finding ways to match differently shaped pieces and performing the physical placement of the block can do wonders for a child’s fine motor skills and cognitive development.
Strong hands are essential when it comes to learning to write, and time spent building muscle strength in the hands while playing with Legos will give children a head start when it comes to holding the pencil properly.
A great way for children to begin to develop their creative skills does not even require a trip to the store – the age-old game of dress-up is a perfect way for kids to have fun while improving their creative skills! While playing dress-up, the world becomes limitless. A child can be a doctor, an alien, a construction worker, or even just daddy driving the car.
By pretending to be something else and making one thing “become” another, children learn abstract thinking which is essential later in life. Additionally, their self-esteem and confidence get a major boost as they complete tasks they’ve set for themselves (“drive the car to get milk for kitty””).
Dress-up isn’t the only way children can gain these valuable skills. Dolls offer kids an easy and fun way to engage in imaginary or “pretend play,” an important thinking skill that requires children to both realize a non-present thing exists, and then re-create it in a separate environment. Generally, children are egocentric and have a hard time realizing that other people have feelings too.
By “pretending” to be a mother, girls begin to understand that the people surrounding them are independent of themselves. Learning through observation is a key part of childhood development, and by practicing interactions a girl has witnessed her family or caregiver perform, she will have a better and more complete understanding of the world and her role within it.
Another benefit of playing with dolls comes from the “real life” skills children will improve upon by feeding the doll, dressing and undressing the doll, speaking to the doll and so on. By dressing and undressing a doll, they learn to dress and undress themselves.
From speaking to the doll, they practice their conversational skills on their own terms. By practicing these valuable skills as play, children become able to claim independence in a fun and exciting way!
A final benefit of both dolls and dress-up is learning to feel empathy. Taking a doll’s needs into consideration shatters a child’s egocentric world view as they begin to truly value another’s needs. Not only will this be a valuable skill once your child begins school, but its great practice for a future sibling!
While it may seem that toys are just fun and games, they are also extremely valuable learning tools that will shape your child for years to come. To children, toys are more than just objects: they are companions, teachers, and best friends that help guide them through a big and confusing world.
By providing your child with safe and stimulating toys and play opportunities you are giving them the education they need to move through early childhood happy, confident and strong.
Freelance writer, Jordyn Fisher, contributed this article on behalf of Mooshka Dolls, a product of MGA Entertainment.