We live in a world where most of us are increasingly under pressure to save money. However, like many, those of us with preschool children need to be very careful that we don't compromise our child's future by cutting corners and saving costs in the wrong places.
Preschool and early school play may seem like a frivolous topic. After all, toys, puzzles and games for preschool children may actually seem far less important than paying household bills and putting food on the table. But in the long-term cutting corners here and denying your children the resources they need to prosper in their early years is a mistake that you may well end up regretting for a long time.
With this in mind, here are my five top tips to choosing the right toys, puzzles and games for your children and making the most of a limited budget.
1. Buy for the child not for yourself. One of the biggest problems that retailers of educational toys and games relate is that parents have a preconceived idea about what is best for their children, and this is unfortunately normally based on what they would like to play with themselves. The government in the United Kingdom up until 2010 had gone to great pains to show the correct sorts of activities for each age group leading up to school. The age markings you will see on the sides of boxes retailing educational puzzles and toys to children are very relevant. Use these when making your choice and you will not go far wrong.
2. While most children are encouraged to play with the full range of toys and games available, it is still true to say that some toys are more favored by boys and others by girls. Again this is an issue of concern to some parents who do not wish to stereotype their children into a particular form of active play. It is a good idea however, to allow children a mix of games and toys that are suitable for both sexes, as well as perhaps indulging them now and again in something that is suitable for their age group that they would really enjoy. If you are lucky enough to be able to go shopping with your child and they are drawn towards a particular activity that is rated as suitable for them, then it's best to buy regardless of whether it is marked as more suitable for boys or girls. Many children seem to develop an empathy for the opposite sex if they have previously played with toys and games in this way. This in turn helps to build a more complete social bonding and network structure for them.
3. Different toys, puzzles and games perform slightly different functions in your child's development. It's worth noting that from an early age dexterity and manipulation of basic easy to handle objects as well as recognition of the world around them is the most important activity for your preschool child. A year or so later social interaction, sharing and basic problem-solving will more than likely become the focus of educational play. Good retailers will clearly mark the toys which perform different functions. Ideally you will want to spend your budget on toys that will last a period of time and perform more than one learning function to your child. Bear this in mind when choosing and you will get better value for your money.
4. Adapting existing toys in a safe and child friendly manner is quite acceptable. Clean and baby safe toys handed down from an older sibling should not be shunned. They will provide an excellent foundation and, if added to carefully with newer purchases will offer a wide range of choice when it comes to educational play with your toddler. Keep toys puzzles and games [http://www.educationaltoysandgames.co.uk/index.php/educational-toys.html] that your child has outgrown safe and clean and store them for younger siblings or perhaps to give to relatives or charities as appropriate.
5. The final piece of advice is try not to get confused with all the choice available. Safety is the main consideration, and if you feel any toy or puzzle could in some way be dangerous to your preschool child then disregard it immediately. Your peace of mind plays a vital role in early years education. If your child is drawn to a particular toy and you can see the educational merit in it, then it may be worth buying that one rather than over analyzing the situation. There is no need to spend large amounts of money, adding a few carefully chosen toys and puzzles every month should form part of your family budgeting and enable your preschool child to learn through play and benefit in later years.
Most of the above is probably common sense, but it is worth remembering the benefits that early years educational games and toys have.
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