Incorporating Language Development into Playtime for Infancy Through Preschool.
By Pamela Emerson
When we are looking for educational toys and games for our children, it is always helpful to know what children are like at the various stages of their development.
During infancy, nearly everything a baby can touch, taste, smell, see, hear or feel is a learning experience, but there really are very few educational toys and games for a child of this age per se, with the following exceptions: language 'games'. Learning language, even from birth, is of extreme importance to your baby's mental development and preparation for school. Talk to your baby!! If you name toys and objects many times a day, these objects become his 'educational toys and games'! Your baby is learning to associate a particular sound with the particular object, whether it is a toy, or baby's feet during bath time, or your nose (and baby's nose), and so forth.
You can also talk about activities throughout the day, every day. The repetition of words is key. Our babies recognize many words long before they can speak even a single word. How would your baby ever know to say "mama" or "dada" if you did not repeat these words hundreds of times?
I remember when my first-born learned the word for moon. There was a favorite soft book of his, with dozens of pictures that we would look at together, usually every day, saying the word of each object. When he was about 16 months, there was a full moon in a clear sky. We went out on the porch to enjoy the early evening, and he spotted the moon. His enthusiasm was tremendous, as he alternated his little feet in a fast dance, and pointed to the sky exclaiming, "Moon, moon, moon!!" This was the first time he had ever said the word.
As your baby gets older, educational toys and games are in abundance. Blocks, crayons, easy puzzles, hand puppets, stacking toys, mobiles, and so on, all help to develop motor skills, spatial awareness, recognition of various sounds, and language skills if baby has 'talking' company for some of the time when he is engaged in play. Of all the toys your pre-school child might have, their value will be enhanced dramatically by your participation in his play, with spoken words, words, words! Language skills are further increased by naming the surroundings, the travels from one room or one place to another, what you are engaged in at any given time ("We're washing the floor." "You're helping Mommy!") and so forth.
Educational toys and games are a big part of your child's early years, and they should be fun! Babies and children are naturally curious, from the first few weeks of life. They are hungry to learn. But the keyword is "fun". We should not try to teach letters and reading and math (and so forth) until a child is ready to learn, and this is generally not during the preschool years, even though there are some exceptions. In these cases, follow the child's lead. For example, if she points to a magnetic letter "A" on the refrigerator and asks for its name, we can always answer her question. And later, if she names the letter correctly, we can applaud, and share in her enthusiasm, resisting the temptation to teach her "B" through "Z"!
All of life's pressures and demands will come soon enough. If a child has her basic needs met, she will not have to be encouraged or taught to learn. We all come into this world with an abundance of natural curiosity and a drive to explore absolutely everything within reach - - not always the safest of situations, as every parent knows.
So, enjoy your little one without worrying that she will be far behind her peers when she enters her first year of school.
About the Author
My Little Toys offers products of the highest quality that will enable you to make your child's world a delightful, stimulating, educational and safe environment. Please visit us often as our product catalog continues to include more toys for all age groups. http://www.mylittletoys.com
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