Will you invest in a STEM toy for your child?

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Toys are just toys are just toys. Right? Wrong! Depending on the sort of toys you buy for your children, the usefulness or the lack of it comes forth!

As a parent, as much as I understand that you can’t really separate toys from children, I’ve always felt that enough thought should go behind what you buy for your little ones. The right toys at the right age not only enhances cognitive and motor skills, but also aid in their emotional and social well-being. And STEM toys are doing just that and a bit more.

STEM toys focus on the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. Now, the buzz is that Amazon has launched a subscription service for STEM toys. Aimed at parents, subscribing to this service would mean educational toys will get delivered to their doorstep for a certain amount. The toy will be hand-picked to make sure only age-appropriate ones are sent out and will only include recently launched or those that are exclusive to the retail giant.

It’s a rising trend across the globe for parents to invest in toys and games that contribute to their child’s overall well-being and development.  While a good number of parents want their kids to be more involved in physical activities courtesy the rise in childhood obesity, an increasing number of parents favour toys which ensure that their little one gets academically competitive.

I recall buying a set of wooden blocks from a Waldorf-inspired school. These blocks were in different shapes and sizes and were not polished, neither had any colour on them. They were literally just finely shaped pieces of wood. While buying it, I wondered if my then 3-year-old would like playing with it at all considering it looked so plain. But then, one day she dragged me into her room to show me a structure she had built. I was just amazed at her sense of symmetry and planning.

My 3-year-old's architectural wonder!

My 3-year-old’s architectural wonder!

While toys are meant to be played with, they aren’t merely playthings. They are an integral part of your child’s future. Hence, it is wise to think about what you want your child to focus on, while narrowing down on a  toy for him. A toy should not be looked at as something silly, for your child will be engaged with that for a while and you may as well ensure that it’s building much more than just gender stereotypes. Here are some points to keep in mind while buying a toy for your child:

  • Playing is serious business: Playing is what children do day in and day out, that is when they aren’t in school. They take it pretty seriously. Good toys help them pick up new skills and understand the world around them. While I’m all for Barbies, try not to rush to the doll section each time you are shopping for your little girl. Unless of course, she wants a doll. In that case, there is no point fighting it. That’s reverse gender discrimination, my friend.
  • Let it be age-appropriate: You may have envisioned your child as a doctor, walking around with a stethoscope in hand. However, it may not be what your 9-year old wants. Perhaps, just perhaps, he’d rather have a DIY science kit. Nurture his likes with age-appropriate toys.
  • Is it for you? Confession time! My daughter has been subjected to toys that I found interesting. When I realised that I was more gung ho about playing with those, I sheepishly donated them. The next toy-shopping session happened where I was just sponsoring the deal.

Times have changed. Parents no longer look at a toy from the perspective of keeping the child off their hair. These days, toys are investments to nurture and build the scientists, doctors and mathematicians of tomorrow. Serious business this!

Also read: My daughter only wants to play with “boy” toys. What should I do?

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Written by

Divya Nair