During the holidays, many moms and dads are juggling the demands of work and parenting as usual, complicated by an overcharged social schedule and the additional tasks of creating a joyful experience that will find a treasured place in their child’s memory. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other relatives, on the other hand, may be more available to relax and experience the season through the eyes of children. For many relatives, part of the fun is selecting a new toy or book and watching the child’s (hopefully) happy reaction to the gift.
But how do you know what to choose for a child you may see only a few times a year? Or a child who seems to have everything already? Or a child whose parents are very fussy about what toys they prefer for her?
One strategy is to bypass the large discount stores and stop by your locally owned neighborhood toy store. Most of these stores compete with “the big guys” by focusing on superior service and expert assistance in matching up the child you describe with a toy that will fit his age, abilities, interests, and home environment.
Here are a few other suggestions for selecting good toys for grandchildren, nieces, and nephews:
1) Focus on the features of the play a toy encourages, rather than on the features of the toy. Think about what the child can do, rather than what the toy can do.
2) Let the child’s abilities and interests guide your toy choices, not advertising or the popularity of the toy.
3) Look for toys that let the child “make up the story”—toys that leave room for the child to use his imagination in how he plays with the toy. Try to find open-ended products that offer lots of possibilities for different ways to play.
4) Offer an array of toys and activities that encourage your child to use and explore all developmental domains: physical; cognitive; sensory; speech and language; social and emotional.
5) Remember that kids learn and have fun with all kinds of play materials—as long as they are safe, many everyday objects can become the toy of the moment. Toys don’t have to be expensive or even purchased at a store.
6) Find a gift that is designed to help you share play time together. Play is a wonderful way to build relationships, and just think how much the parents will appreciate a break during such a busy time. Depending on the child’s age, games, puzzles, books, and craft kits can be good choices.
7) Consider toys and activities that offer a glimpse into childhoods past. If you hold a treasured memory of your grandmother making a toy with you or playing a particular game with you, why not pass that part of your personal history along to your grandchild or niece or nephew?
Provided By Susan J. Oliver, Tropomedia
This information is provided on behalf of the toy experts at your neighborhood toy store.