In today’s culture, there are definitely thoughts and beliefs for how children should play and what they should play with. The media, society, and toy manufacturers expect boys to play with cars, balls, and blocks, and girls to play with dolls, kitchens, and dress-up clothes. It is important for children to have the opportunity to play with a variety of toys and participate in a variety of activities.
Play can be defined in many different ways, and we can agree or disagree with the different opinions. The fact is, when children have the ability to choose how to play and what to play with, all play results in higher achievement in developmental milestones.
Playing with a variety of toys leads to appropriate growth for girls and boys
Have an open mind when it comes to children and play. It is very appropriate for boys to play with dolls in the house area and for girls to play with blocks and toy trucks. Regardless of which activity or toy is used, all children should be able to play. Always be prepared to offer children choices in play that include many different possibilities. Do not think of toys as gender-specific, but rather as developmentally appropriate for the child.
When children play with toys such as dolls or kitchens, they develop social, emotional, and language skills while using their imaginations. In addition to helping a child interact with others, these types of toys give them the opportunity to apply their learning to real-life situations. Having fun in the kitchen leads to children enjoying cooking with their parents.
When a child plays with a doll, they gain an understanding of babies in real life and are prepared to be in the presence of newborns without being scared. A toy that is interactive will encourage cooperative play and sharing. A game like “dress up” also opens up new worlds for a child’s imagination.
Playing with items such as blocks, balls, and toy cars can improve motor, language, and social skills. Every child can have a great time playing with blocks. Their imaginations can create a garage, a castle, or even a grocery store. They can make imaginary trips to the ocean while playing with cars and a great big truck can deliver their favorite things around the world.
There are no limits to what a child can imagine. Our job is to provide them with as many opportunities as possible to use their imagination. Playing with any type of toy, as long as it’s safe and age-appropriate, will help a child grow and increase their creativity and sense of self.
No matter how you feel about toys and activities that might or might not be gender-specific, keep in mind that toys under the age of five can be considered gender-neutral. Consider allowing a boy to play with stuffed animals and dolls. Allow a girl to play with toy cars and blocks. These opportunities will only make them more well-rounded at kindergarten and strengthen their development in the long run. In addition to developing life skills, young children also acquire traits such as compassion and respect as they move to formal educational settings.
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MSU Extension. 2021. Playing with a variety of toys leads to appropriate growth for girls and boys. [online] Available at: <https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/playing_with_a_variety_of_toys_leads_to_appropriate_growth> [Accessed 27 September 2021].
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