When it comes to learning, children are like sponges. They grow and develop at an astonishing rate!

There are lots of educational toys on the market, and as a parent you might be wondering if they’re even worth it. Can educational toys really make your kid smarter?

It’s a valid question, and one we wanted to get to the bottom of. We looked at the research and here’s what we found.

Educational Toys And Brain Development

Educational toys do matter, and they can make the process of learning fun. Kids will pick up new skills without even realizing they’re doing it. Science supports this.

A two-decade long research study shows that an early childhood surrounded by educational toys and children’s books has a positive effect on brain development.  

The study, conducted by the centre for neuroscience and society at the University of Pennsylvania, looked a brain scans of participants over the course of 20 years. Cognitive stimulation from parents at the age of four (using tools such as toys and books) was the key factor in predicting brain development much later on in life.

What this means is that engaging your children in learning play, particularly from a young age, has a significant impact on the parts of the brain dedicated to language and cognition. The positive results can be seen years in the future.  

Educational toys help children develop imagination, motor skills, self-esteem, and problem solving skills (just to name a few). This is why quality play with skill building toys is so important!

Educational Toy Categories

Educational toys can be divided into several groups, depending on what skills they help develop. These skills include:

Gross Motor:

Toys that encourage muscle development through larger movements involving arms, legs, feet, or the entire body; actions like crawling, running, catching a ball and jumping. These are gross motor skills.

Sensory:

Toys that stimulate sensory development (touch, sight, sound, taste, smell) fall into this category.

Related: Fun And Cool Sensory Toys All Kids Will Love!

Fine Motor:

Toys that involve a refined use of the small muscles which control the hand, fingers and thumb. With the development of these crucial skills, a child is able to complete important tasks such as writing and buttoning.

Creativity:

Toys that encourage imagination and outside-the-box thinking. Creative and intellectual development fall into this category.

STEM:

This stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Toys that teach STEM concepts encourage problem-solving and help kids prepare for a future where technology plays an ever important role.

Choosing An Educational Toy

The toys that we choose to buy for our kids matter. Some questions to consider when choosing a toy for your child:

  • What skill or area of learning will this toy allow my child to experience?
  • Is the toy at the right age/skill level for my child?
  • Is the toy safe? Will it last?
  • Does the toy encourage creative thinking?
  • Will the toy hold my child’s interest?

We ask ourselves all these questions and more before we recommend a particular educational toy to our community.

Here’s a list of our Favorite Skill-Building Toys. Let the learning begin!