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You don’t need educational toys

You don’t need educational toys

Alexis Ralphs Aug 21 • 7 min read

How do you feel about educational toys?

And what are they, anyway?

Children instinctively know what's good for them. Objects that can teach them lessons they are ready to learn are intensely interesting. It could be a wine cork, a marble or a muddy puddle. It could also be blocks, a wooden figure, or (very occasionally) a piece of plastic tat from the front of a magazine.

Calling something an educational toy is setting it up for failure. I'm not a fan of apps for the under 5s or gadgets that speak and sing, but their failing is not that they are electronic. It's that they are sold as being educational. We're led to believe that they will 'teach' our child. They might, but the time has to be right. And who knows when the time is right?

Your child.

Children naturally gravitate towards the things that will teach them what they need to know at the time they need to know it.

What's brilliant about open-ended toys is that you can use them in many ways over many years. And because they reveal their secrets through exploration, they are always pitched at just the right level. A twelve-month-old has much to learn from a set of blocks, from bashing and dropping to piling and stacking. Years later they will still be in her toy box as she discovers the delights of arches, ramps and marble runs, a constant companion throughout childhood.

Don't be seduced by the marketing hype around toys that will supposedly help your child reach the next developmental milestone. What you need is probably already in your toy box - or kitchen drawer.

From our #fewerbettertoys series, where we look at ways to get more play value from the toys you already have.

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