By Veselina Dzhingarova
Brain development in toddlers is a reflection of how they understand the world around them. A great portion of this understanding is inherently developed during the first year of life where they learn to trust their senses. By the time they reach 18 months, they will already be supplementing their sensory experiences with other activities that are brought about by their interactions with the toys that we give them as well as their social interactions with other people. For the most part, toys have a great influence in their cognitive development. Here are some of the benefits of toys on the brain and cognitive development of toddlers.
1. Stimulates Curiosity
Toddlers are deemed natural explorers. Because of their improved motor skills and renewed confidence, they tend to explore a lot of things which would help them make sense of the world around them. Find toys that stimulate their sense of exploration and allow them to discover new things around them. By the time they reach 3 years old, they will already be bombarding you with a lot of “why” questions. It may be annoying sometimes because there is no end to their questions. But this is exactly how toddlers learn. Toys help them become naturally curious about certain things in their surroundings.
2. Helps Understand Cause-Effect Relationships
By age 18 months old, toddlers will already be able to understand simple causal relationships. They will already have an idea that a particular action will lead to a certain reaction. This can provide the basis for their ability to predict outcomes as well as identify potential consequences of any given action. Toys that help facilitate this understanding are thus, beneficial for brain development in toddlers. This can help them in the development of their creativity and imagination as they now have an idea of what will happen if they create or do something.
3. Develops Ability to Plan
Toddlers by age 2 years will already begin choosing and planning for their own playtime activities. This is because of the continuing maturity of their executive control systems, meaning, they are now able to take full control of their body movements particularly control of their limbs. This allows them to think of how best to use those movements to accomplish a certain task. Make-believe and pretend play toys can help toddlers make rough plans on how they need to carry out the game.
Young kids have this idea that an object that cannot be seen is an object that is not existent. That is why they love very much playing with peek-a-boo simply because of the magic of the disappearing face. However, by the time they reach 2 years of age, toddlers already begin to understand object permanence. This simply means that toddlers are getting more efficient at playing hide and seek. This also means that they can now play with toys that allow them to search for clues and other objects. Puzzles and sorters will fit this bill perfectly.
5. Improves Concentration and Focus
While the attention span of a toddler is a measly 6 minutes, giving the right kind of toy can drastically improve this by keeping him interested and focused on the toy itself. This is where high quality toys can be differentiated from mediocre ones as the former can sustain a toddler’s interest for prolonged periods of time. This can help improve their focus and concentration which can also help improve their overall cognitive development.
There are other benefits of toys on toddlers’ brain development. Suffice it to say that toys are the instruments upon which a child’s growth and development are formed and enhanced.