With Christmas a few days away, it’s time to really put on your thinking cap and pick out a few toys to give your kids. It can be a challenge shopping for toys when many of the products in stores are entertaining, but have little benefits to them in terms of education. At Wonder Years Learning Center, we’re passionate about helping children build a foundation of learning and having fun while doing it! At our daycare in Munster, we love picking out educational toys that will provide our young students with the tools they need to build essential skills and habits. So, when you’re out shopping, here are a few things to consider as you’re roaming the aisles.

Types of Educational Toys

Before you even head out to start shopping, ask yourself what areas you want to encourage in your child. There are a variety of different types of toys, and each have their own purpose. Our daycare has a variety of each of type of toys for your kids to play with.

  • Toys For Strength: If you want to focus on building strength and gross motor skills, look for items like wagons, bikes, or shovels. These will encourage movement and will engage a variety of muscles in order to build strength.
  • Sensory Toys: These toys will help teach them about their senses, such as touch and hearing. Examples of toys include bubbles, play dough, water toys, or musical instruments. Not only will they be able to experience and learn about their different senses, they will also have a blast playing with these toys.
  • Imagination: Having a strong imagination will encourage your child to problem solve down the road. These toys can include dresses for play time, dolls, cars, trucks, and books. These are also great options if you have two or three kids and they can play together with them.
  • Engaging: If you want to encourage individual or parallel play, look for crayons, paints, paper, and other hands-on toys. These types of toys will help them learn how to be independent.

Consider the Ages and Stages

You’re probably already aware of this, but it’s important to consider their age and what they are interested in, especially if you have kids of different ages who may want to share toys. Ask yourself what they are interested in and if small objects be safe for everyone. Will they be able to take the toy and change it or play with it in a different way? Will they be able to play with others with it? On the other hand, if you’re looking for a toy that will help them fall asleep at night, will it be engaging, yet gentle enough to have that effect? Think about the purpose of the toy and consider if it will have the desired outcome.

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Think Outside the Box

You may really want your child to be an engineer or a doctor when they grow up, so you look for building blocks and play stethoscopes. But keep in mind that when a child is three, four, or five years old, they have a lot of learning to do before they can determine for themselves what they want to do or be. Instead of looking for specific toys, branch out and look for toys that will engage their minds in a variety of ways. Giving them a simple toy can sometimes be enough for them to use their imagination and take it a step further on their own.

At Wonder Years Learning Center, our daycare teachers love watching our students learn and explore the world around them. We love watching them take a book from the shelf and flip the pages looking at pictures on their own, and we love watching them play with other students to build social skills. All of the little things make such a big difference in their overall learning.

When shopping this Christmas season, remember to keep it simple, but also look at how your kid will interact with the toys and what they will learn from it. If you’re looking for a daycare with a focus on learning for the new year, visit Wonder Years Learning Center in Munster today.