#geniusofplay: Playtime for kids has big boosts in academic areas

So right now you’re about halfway through summer wondering what on earth you can plan for the last 2 months of the kids’ free season before you’re doing your back-to-school shopping. You’ve probably already hit the zoo, the water park, maybe even the beach. You’ve picnicked, hiked, camped, dutifully signed them up for swimming lessons and basketball camps, visited the park a little more than you’d like, and thrown a few slumber parties. You’re racking your brain for how to entertain the kiddos… and we have the solution: let them come up with it!

Let them play. Free reign. No fancy gadgets, no fancy trips. Just playusing their own toys and imaginations… and maybe a few tips from The Toy Industry Association.

The experts back it up! Research shows that playtime has a critical role in healthy childhood development! A full hour of open ended playtime per day has BIG BENEFITS like:

  • Strengthening your children’s minds, bodies, and bonds with friends and family
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving cognitive abilities
  • Honing communication skills
  • Boosting creativity
  • Giving them the tools to process and express emotions healthily
  • Developing physical skills (fine motor and athetic!)
  • Enhancing their social skill set (like patience, kindness, sharing, and more!)

Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of the Toy Industry Association has teamed up with researchers to back a new initiative called the #geniusofplay to remind parents that they can relax… a lot.

“Today’s parents and caring adults can be too singularly focused on their children getting good grades, staying disciplines, and mastering a number of structured extracurricular activities,” Pasierb says, “But that can come at a cost … [P]ediatricians recommend that children spend at least 60 minutes a day engaged in open-ended play — arts and crafts, playing dress-up, building imaginary worlds, and and so much more. Through play, children learn about the world around them, explore their creativity, build important skills, and work through their emotions. The positive impact of play on the healthy development of kids, from tots to teens, is undeniable. Our goal is to inspire parents to make play an important part of their children’s day – every day!”

Researchers and experts like Dr. Anne Marie Albano, Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University Medical Center and Director of the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, say that play is essential and transcends cultural and geographic boundaries. It transforms the brain’s neural pathways and helps children deal with pain, fear, and anxiety. Its benefits are endless.

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The campaign asks parents to pledge to at least 1 hour per day of play for their kiddos–or 1,000,000 hours of pure fun (and beneficial)! play this year. At the end of the year, they’ll make a donation to the Toy Bank, which is an international giving program that makes play possible around the world for kids in need.

They have cute, short videos that highlight just how many skills and opportunities kids have to learn in play activities such as this one:

Plus, they have an entire section on play ideas and play tips (such as tips for independent play, for grandparents, for playdates, or how to keep the kids playing on family trips). They even break it down by age!

We have you covered on some of the great toys that will help aid your child in their play.

For 6-12 months, they recommend stacking toys and blocks because they say that “babies in this age range are able to manage high levels of stimulation. They’re beginning to exercise their working memory and understand how to change their behavior to fit different game rules.”

stacking toys, toys for 6-18 months

Owl Stacker – 8 pieces – Melissa & Doug – $12.99

 

wooden blocks, baby toys, developmental toys

ABC/123 WOODEN BLOCKS – 36 blocks – Melissa & Doug – $25.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For 1-2 years, they say that simple shape sorters and puzzles with knobs because “gross motor skills continue to be formed [and] kids at this age begin to display affection toward familiar people and start to imitate the behaviors of others.

Shape Sorting Cube – Melissa & Doug – $13.99

 

jumbo knob puzzles, melissa and doug toys

FRUIT BASKET JUMBO KNOB -8 pieces – Melissa & Doug – $18.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For 2-3 years, they say that knob puzzles with whole object pieces that fit into simple scenes and building blocks are great because “physical play will help kids this age continue to develop gross motor skills and understand spatial orientation. Arts & crafts can foster self-expression, creativity, cooperation and sharing.

Peg Puzzle “Farm” – 6 pieces – Melissa & Doug – $6.99

 

 

 

 

 

Castle Logix – 7 pieces – Smart Games – $24.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For 6-9 years, try model kits, paper dolls, and board games because “strategy-based games help support children’s cognitive flexibility and problem solving skills. Pretend play is also very popular during this stage. Creating and remembering details about complex imaginary worlds and characters strengthens kids’ memory and innovative thinking.

goldieblox toys, girl engineers

GOLDIEBLOX AND THE PARADE FLOAT – $19.99

 

TOPS AND TIGHTS MAGNETIC DRESS-UP – $18.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out their full list of age-appropriate games and toys from 0-12 years, take the pledge, and browse our toy catalog for kids so you can take a break, your kids can have some fun, and everyone can go into the new school year feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Your Kids and Development

We recently stumbled across this great article about parents roles in their children’s development: how parents keying in to their progress in school during this crucial time is “a determining factor in [the child’s] success as an adult.” They stress the importance of  actively aiding a child’s progress:

“Parents … should also take the time to learn what’s being covered under the lesson plan and what’s up next on the curricular agenda. Make a point of working on those skills at home, too … Remember, education and learning don’t stop the minute your child walks out the door of her preschool or child development center.”

Keep your kids’ brains active with playful learning games and toys with foundational skills. Melissa and Doug offers great supplements for providing educational fun in the home.

Alphabet Truck, Ages 3+

Block play is a great foundational skill for stacking, counting, and sorting.

Fruit Basket Jumbo Knob. Age 2+

Plugging in shapes is great for hand-eye-coordination skills.

Magnetic Pattern Block Kit. Ages 3+

Whether they are building predetermined patterns or exploring with shapes, they will learn about space