If you are keen to help your child develop emotionally, socially and mentally so that they become a person who will want to keep learning well into their adulthood; then read on and learn about some of the Electronic Learning Toys available and their benefits.
Toys are, and should continue to be, a major part of any child’s experience. Toys provide experiences which help the cognitive and emotional development of children. For most children learning to play comes naturally, whether it be with toys, or interacting with other children and, to a certain extent, adults. However what is fundamental, I believe, is that children should be provided with plenty of learning toys during their early years, because this will help develop their learning abilities and contribute to later learning.
Notice that I have said ‘learning toys’, not just ‘toys’. I am suggesting that there are toys which we ought to classify as learning toys mainly because some thought has been put into their creation. To a certain extent all toys have an educational value, but some are better than others and thus can be classed as learning toys.
Now it is important that we are not just giving a learning toy to a child without any interaction from ourselves. We should be directing the child to a certain extent so that they are gaining as much out of the experience as possible. I am not suggesting that we direct too much, but lack of any interaction at all is not helpful. I don’t think adults should be happy if their child is engrossed and not therefore bothering the adult’s busy life. We must get involved as much as possible, but not to completely control of course.
In recent years certain toys have been developed which are helpful to parents in providing children with toys and games which are fun, but designed in such a way that they are naturally educational. They still need the initial parental input, but provide an ongoing structure which leads children to learn whilst having fun. These are the Electronic Learning Toys.
There are a fantastic variety of Electronic Learning Toys available nowadays. There are toys for all ages from babies to young adults. I will mainly concentrate on those for younger children, up to about 8 years old, but will touch on toys which are suitable for older children.
For very young learners two types of electronic toys are extremely popular. These are the games-type consoles which either link to a TV, or link to a computer (and thus sometimes to the internet).
The two manufactures who are doing most to develop these type of games are LeapFrog and VTech. Both of them have produced games which are well structured to help children improve various skills, such as languages, reading, mathematics, musical and science. A lot of thought has been put into making the games both fun and educational.
The VTech learning system, which has a minimum suggested age of 3 years, uses cool graphics and popular characters to create situations which encourage the children to participate and, by solving problems for the characters, learn about English, maths, art, science, geography and history. The ‘action’ can be watched on the TV screen and the controls are an easy-to-use joystick and chunky buttons. When you first buy the console it comes with one, or two, game cartridges; but there are many others available to purchase.
The LeapFrog games are designed to link to a computer and thus, in some cases, allow the use of extra material by going online. The other advantage of the LeapFrog games system is the possibility of parents using the computer to oversee their child’s progress. LeapFrog systems are also designed so that they adapt automatically to go at the child’s pace. Children can use the learning system ‘on the go’ and then link up to the computer later to collect rewards, or to upload any art work that they have created in certain games.
For older children there are some excellent science toys available. One example is the Electronic Construction Kits, where components which are easy to snap together allow children to put circuits together and thus learn about difficult electronic concepts. There is a company in the UK which specialise in educational scientific toys, including electronic ones. The company is called Curious Minds and is well worth a visit if your are based in the UK.
I hope that all parents out there are making sure that their children are getting some experience playing with some good learning toys. I hope that this article has pointed you in the right direction if you have not yet considered getting hold of these types of toy.