Oh, your two year old child… you love him. And you want to get the best for him. But you’re not sure what to choose.
Here’s the best, straight from my mama.
My mum wasn’t very educated.
But somehow or rather, she brought me up to score terrifically well at the primary school leaving examination, eventually getting into a top, elite secondary school.
Along the way, she even saw me winning an overseas scholarship.
Whilst we did experience some hard times, we were fortunately helped by great charities like Care Corner (whom you can donate to here if you love the kids cause).
I don’t say this to boast, but to share about the many things I think my mum did well in bringing me up to who I am today.
And often, what we may think as some of the best educational toys don’t have to be expensive.
Here’s the principles my mum used, and what you can use too.
You might not want to pass the child the screen
When I used to work with parents, I saw how many of them would give their child the iPad or the phone to distract them, or to stop them crying.
It may do more harm than good.
If you look at some of technology’s biggest names, they were reluctant to share their inventions with their children.
One of them, was Steve Jobs.
Nick Bilton, in a New York Times interview with Steve Jobs, once asked Jobs,
So your kids, they must love the iPad?
We limit the amount of technology we use at home.
Adam Atler further chronicles this phenomenon of tech titans controlling the amount of device use at home.
Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired, enforced strict time limits on every device in his home, “because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand.” His five children were never allowed to use screens in their bedrooms.
Evan Williams, a founder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium, bought hundreds of books for his two young sons, but refused to give them an iPad.
Irresistible, by Adam Atler
Don’t you find it strange that this happens?
It’s because of how destructive technology can be, especially to young minds. It can hook your child, especially from a young age.
My advice? Avoid giving it to your child as much as you can.
But what then can you do? We know that as busy parents, you may want to spend as much time as possible with your child, but duty calls.
Here’s what you may want to try.
Start building creativity with pens and pencils
My mum started nurturing in me a love for paper, pens, and color pencils from a young age.
Whenever you go out, rather than passing your kid the phone, pass down pen and paper. You could even start with simple colouring books, so that they have a guide to colouring.
Perhaps my mum’s greatest gift was a diary when I was young. Writing about mundane things like getting my first GameBoy Color Advance, led me to eventually fall in love with writing, and become a writer.
The beauty of something like that is that your child can be stimulated for long periods of time with the same item.
Try close ended toys for your child
Of course there are times when you’d like to have your child to focus on something without disturbing you. This is where close-ended toys can help.
Closed ended toys have a clear beginning and a clear end point. Your child finishes playing with the toy, then moves on to another activity. They teach task completion and the patience to see things through to the end.
Some of our favourite include ones like:
Ah, we all know Connetix. And these brightly coloured squares and shapes can keep your child entertained for hours, as they try to snap together the magnetic objects.
Hand your child one of these, and you would be surprised at the amount of talking he does.
Children learn to mimic their parents extremely quickly, and one of the things they probably see you doing a lot… is talking on the phone.
Don’t be sad.
At least they are learning to be the high-flying business executive like you.
But this helps your child to learn social interaction, as he realises that there is an element of listening, and not just talking.
Use open ended toys
On the other hand, there are no clearly defined instructions in open-ended toys.
Open ended toys tend to be great because there are no rules to follow, and kids use their imagination to build and create as they wish. Whilst we all know the common toys like Lego, what we may not be more familiar with are ones like Modu Toys.
Modu for the tactile, soft, fixing
Watch a child interact with Modu, and you would be surprised.
They can put together anything they want, stick a couple of connectors through them, and tada! They have their brand new race-car.
Or they might want to create a little cooking kitchen at home. They can do the same.
The beauty of Modu is not really that it’s creative, but rather, that it’s life-size. This means that rather than having the small Lego toy to play with, the Modu introduces something lifelike, that they can play with. Why does it need to be life-size? Because at that young age of 2, your child needs to have an idea of scale and size.
Watch your child at the playground, and you might see him trying desperately to pull things that are simply too large for him, or to pick fights with cats that are too rough.
The Modu, being soft, helps them to get a better idea.
Make playgrounds at home
But what my mum also did was take me out to the park almost daily.
This can give your child the ability to bounce back from failure, and be willing to be courageous. After all, as a small kid, there’s nothing more scary than screaming whilst you’re flying sky-high on the swing.
As kids, we remember moments like that.
These moments help us grow to become well adjusted adults with the emotional maturity to handle failure.
We all want to do that. But as busy parents, with emails and many PowerPoints to make, it can be tough to take your child out.
This is where toys like the Avdar Gym help.
Imagine setting up a playground at home, and having your child swing and play, as and when you like!
Your child would be delighted.
And you would, too.
Ultimately, having the right thing for your child is about being willing to give them the space to try, and the attention they need.
There is no short cut to parenting.
Finding the best toys will never work as well as giving them your wholehearted attention, whenever you can.
Sure, you might need to work hard. But never forget who you’re working for.