As we gobble down the last bite of our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, it officially becomes gift buying season.
And toys are always on everyone’s gift list.
As the mom of four boys, ages 2-16, I firmly believe that when it comes to toys, more is not merrier.
And in my role as speech pathologist and founder of Gr8 Speech, here is my holiday motto: Let’s move away from the techy toys, stop hunting for the coolest and newest playthings and instead focus on gifts which promote creativity, appropriate social skills and self-expression, skills which last a lifetime
And it is easier than you think.
This refocusing is particularly important for children with speech and language issues where a toy can become a resource, increasing their chances for success. The right toy can teach a child essential social skills such as patience, the importance of waiting for your turn and how to be a successful teammate as well as vocabulary, reading and memory skills.
And with so many games now available in Spanish and other languages, the playing field is leveled for everyone.
Here are some of my updated 2017 favorites which I recently shared on WPTV:
- Traditional toys like blocks, dolls, cars and trains may look old fashioned by are excellent communication skill builders. Because they do not speak, you have too! And the more you talk, sing or show your creative side, the greater the chances your kids will too.
- Board and card games are the ultimate social engager. In addition to building a culture of family fun, board games are timeless.
- My favorites include Twister, a golden oldie which is great for teaching direction as well as body and spatial awareness, Apples to Apples, the ultimate game to teach vocabulary and word usage and Zingo, a fast-paced variation of bingo, which improves vocabulary and reading skills, matching, and memory.
- Hedbandz is also a winning and engaging way to master critical thinking. Anomia is my new favorite for word retrieval and increasing processing speed and Pandemic, a group strategy game which exposes children to the world of science and medicine.
- Otrio is a fun one for math and pattern building and Consensusis an interactive family game which builds vocabulary, particularly nouns and adjectives.
- Puzzles provide a superb opportunity to promote spatial intelligence as well as problem solving skills. The best part is your child can play solo or you can make it interactive by adding other players.
I also love toys which break gender and racial stereotypes and promote positive messaging. A favorite of mine is the Doc McStuffins games and toy series which incorporates pretend play skills essential for language development, with a black female doll playing the role of a vet, doctor and more.
And if you do break down and are lucky enough to find this year’s blockbuster must-have toy, Fingerlings, which reminds me of last year’s Hatchimals, don’t sweat it. In addition to increasing your child’s coolness factor, Fingerlings reinforces nurturing skills and the importance of delayed gratification
Can you receive too many toys?
An overabundance of gifts presents lots of unique opportunities. There is the option of donating or you can categorize and rotate them. Older children can be involved in the process, a perfect opportunity to teach the art of making choices, sequencing and delayed gratification.
Too many toys at one time can be overstimulating. Rolling toys out one by one or rotating toys allows for repetition, an effective strategy for children with speech and language issues. It also changes the perception of a toy from being “old” to “new” every time you bring it out.
And perception is reality.
Share your toy finds! What treasures have you found in your closet and what new toys have you deemed “skill-worthy?”