Dr. Toy: What's Right for Primary-Grade Children?

Children grow quickly, rapidly moving through developmental stages. During the primary grades they are actively expanding their interest in friendships, learning, and outdoor play. Peers are very important. The types of toys their friends play with and their activities will influence your child. Children express their ideas, creativity, feelings, abilities, and personality in play. They share the “give-and-take” and challenges of getting along. Encouraging your child to play with both younger and older children will provide a full range of social experiences.

You can choose among many useful play products for five- to eight-year-olds. Active toys develop large and small muscles. Consider skates, jump ropes, construction, and adventure toys. Creative toys develop imagination. Explore musical instruments, varied art supplies, crafts, a dollhouse, or a train layout. Educational toys enhance learning in reading, writing, math, science, or geography. Stimulate your child's mental abilities and challenge his thinking and problem-solving skills with a chess set, strategy board game, science project, telescope, or a new hobby.

Select toys that will challenge the child to practice skills, expand abilities and have fun independently. Many great choices are available from such companies as Alex, , Briarpatch, Curiosity Kits, Educational Insights, Hasbro, LEGO, Leap Frog, Learning Resources, Manhattan Toy Company, MEGA Bloks, Milton Bradley, Playmobil, Small World Toys, and Wild Planet.

Create a special place for quiet study and active play. Your child needs easy access to the wonderful products you purchase. Find new ways to store playthings so your child can take responsibility for putting things away. Shelving makes storage easy. Boxes or bags can hold a lot. Shoe boxes are useful for tapes, small pieces, and art supplies. Large boxes can be decorated. A hammock is a good way to store stuffed and soft toys or dolls. A toy chest must have safety hinges. Help your child learn to put toys away after they are used. This is safer and playthings last longer.

Take some time each day to play with your child. They will enjoy spending time together playing checkers, a board game, a puzzle, or doing a craft. Quality time translates into fun and benefits everyone.

Let's play!

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