Educational Toys

Developmental, or educational toys are based on cognitive development. There is more than one theory of cognitive development, however, Piagets theory is widely accepted. Using this theory, let us take a look at toys that are best suited through the stages of development. Even Piaget admitted that each child develops differently and that the theory was flawed based on how smoothly some of the transitions were. Some of the challenges to the theory have been based on the beliefs that a child’s economical, family, and social influences all effect cognitive development. Keep all of this in mind when deciding on toys that will best help the development of a particular child.
According to the theory there are four distinct stages of development.

The first is the sensorimotor stage; lasting from birth to approximately two years of age. During this stage, the child will learn coordination between hands and eyes, learn the result from a repeated occurrence, plan an activity on their own, try new things, and creativity and insight begin to develop. By the end of this stage the most important goal is for the child to have learned object permanence. Toys that can be grabbed in the hands and pulled, will be the favorites in the beginning of this stage, while later in the stage puzzles made of large shapes and memory games will develop abilities.

The preoperational stage begins after two and ends at approximately seven. In this stage curiosity and reasoning are developing. At this time the child begins to act out fantasy stories of play and develop magical worlds. They still are unable to associate another person’s point of view with their own. The type of toys for this stage could be puppets, dolls or any type of toy that the child can create an adventure with. You may even want to make a trunk of dress up clothes and allow them to act out plays to develop their self-esteem.

The third stage is the concrete operational stage, and last between the ages of seven and eleven. Many important changes take place in this stage of development such as, sorting objects, relationship recognition, classification of sets of objects, problem solving that involves multiple issues, the ability to comprehend that things can be changed and then put back in the same way, and conservation. Any type of game that promotes logic skills at this stage would be excellent. Word and math puzzles are also great to keep in the car for trips and when you have to wait in waiting rooms.

The formal operational stage is from eleven until adulthood. Abstract thinking begins at this point. They are able to draw their own conclusions from different occurrences and apply information as they have learned it. They can now make a plan to solve a problem, and they are capable of experiencing and understanding love. Think of the old fashioned board game that encourages family activity. Children that are encouraged to participate in family activities will develop a greater sense of self-esteem. Any type of toy that deters a child from isolation is the best kind for this age group. Sports equipment with family involvement, or learning to play chess is an excellent idea.

By Adriana Noton
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