If there’s one thing common about kids of all ages, it’s toys – and kids enrolled at our Olney daycare have access to a lot of them! At home, you can get creative too. These can range from cardboard and paper boxes, to used plastic containers and Tupperware – all items commonly found at home. But parents, other caregivers, and school administrators shouldn’t just grant kids access to any toys available. The toys must be safe for the child to play with. Most importantly, though, the best toys for a child are those that are the most appropriate for their current developmental stage. The best toys for preschoolers are ones that help them build existing skills, while also considering their emerging abilities.
With so many other ways to help preschoolers develop current and emerging skills, why use toys at all? Why not start them off with “regular” learning and schooling activities? Well, the great thing about toys is that they’re a widely used tool in the toolbox of child development specialists and children’s educators – and should also be a staple in the child rearing kits of parents and home caregivers too. Here’s why:
Most importantly, like the teachers and associates at our daycare in Olney, MD know, toys are a great source of teaching and learning. So, early childhood education (ECE) specialists do use toys as a method of providing regular learning and schooling activities to preschoolers too. It’s just that those learning interventions are wrapped around toys to provide a fun way to engage with young minds.
Safety First…and Always!
Before we consider specific types of toys that are the most appropriate for preschoolers, lets take a moment to understand the safety aspect of those toys. As we’ve discussed above, toys are an integral part of a child’s life – both in their learning development, as well as in developing them mentally, physically, and socially. But, if not chosen wisely, toys can be harmful to a child too. Therefore, when it comes to making those choices, it must be “Safety First…and Always!”
Here are some general safety guidelines to consider when deciding what toys to offer your preschooler:
Finally, adults must understand that by simply applying the above safety standards to toy-buying decisions, the preschooler isn’t always protected and safe when using it. Teaching and supervisory staff at our daycare in Olney, MD know that toys, like other products we use, undergo routine wear and tear. It’s therefore important for parents and caregivers to inspect toys that preschoolers play with frequently, just to make sure they still comply with the safety tips listed above.
Picking the Best Toys for Preschoolers (typically 3 to 6-years old)
As we noted in the introduction to this post, toys must conform to the current developmental stage – and stages to immediately follow – of a child. For instance, toddlers have a shorter attention span than preschoolers, so toys for children 3-years or younger have a different set of requirements than those meant for older children.
Preschoolers like to explore the boundaries of emerging strength skills. They enjoy group play with peers their own age. They don’t mind sharing toys with others in their cohort group. They also like applying their mental skills to the games they play. As a result, the toys you choose for preschoolers must conform to these characteristics. Here are some recommendations to keep in mind when making those choices:
One segment of pre schooling toys that doesn’t receive sufficient attention is electronics. That’s because computer games, gaming stations and consoles, and hand-held electronic gamers aren’t typical “toys”. In fact, they too can help preschoolers exercise a range of skills, including fine motor skills and mental acuity. Online games can also help build networking and collaboration skills. However, because these toys are more susceptible to privacy and online security violations, parents and home caregivers must exercise extreme caution when choosing them.
As preschoolers, kids typically love an audience, so choose toys that can help your child demonstrate their skills and talents – and make sure you encourage and appreciate them. The kids at our Olney, MD daycare have plenty of opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve done with their toys – like building a castle out of building blocks, or drawing a picture of an animal or building with crayons or coloring pencils. And teachers also give them plenty of recognition by displaying their handiwork to their peer group – perhaps pinning up their drawings on the classroom display board.
When choosing toys for preschoolers, another consideration is space: If your home has restricted play space available – either indoors or outdoors – then buying them a fast-moving remote-controlled toy might not be a good idea. But, if space is available (e.g., an expansive backyard), and the child has other siblings to play with, then toy sharing must factor into the equation. For instance, when choosing that remote-controlled toy, pick one that has multiple controllers so everyone can share it and have fun.
MCCA has been recognized by the Maryland State Legislature for its commitment to Montgomery County issued a quality programs and special needs child care Proclamation in 2016 to MCCA for its commitment to Montgomery County child care for more than 50 years. MCCA was also selected as a 2018 nonprofit finalist for a MOXIE Award for boldness and innovation
MCCA is the oldest nonprofit licensed child care provider in Montgomery County and started its work in 1968 as a Community Action Project of the War on Poverty. Recognizing the need for quality child care programs in their neighborhoods, a group of local activists formed an association to establish centers in Montgomery County that would serve a diverse population and establish high standards for child care. Now, more than 50 years later, MCCA’s dedicated and expertly trained staff continue their tradition of providing high quality child care and play-based education for children.
Families with school aged children who can afford their child care expenses during the school year often struggle to afford the all-day programs they need when school is out for the summer. The Richard Krampf Summer Adventures Scholarship Fund was established to help provide children a safe and stimulating place to spend their weeks when school is out. Please contact an MCCA Director for details on how to apply.