Dr. Toy on What's Right for Preschoolers©

Stevanne Auerbach, Dr. Toy!

March 26, 2006 (Revised)

Preschoolers have a lot of energy. They are interested in everything. Their vocabulary, self-expression, and imagination are rapidly expanding.

They like play that is dramatic, creative, and active. Their love of play makes preschool a fun-filled learning environment. They develop social skills, a sense of responsibility, and expand communication skills through play.

The best products for your child have a lot of high “play value.” You want long-lasting products that will provide hours of fun, like wooden blocks, construction play sets, games, and puzzles. Look for various textures, shapes, sizes, and colors.

For indoors, select a good mix of art supplies, play sets, books, and tapes.

Your child will enjoy a tricycle and varied outdoor play equipment.

Take your child to the toy store. The child will be excited by the many choices. This is a great way to hear what your child thinks.

Let the child create a "Wish List," so you learn what is preferred. Give your child a chance to make selections based on some of the practical choices you have made in advance.

Consider toys by ALEX, Brio, Discovery Toys, Fisher-Price, Folkmanis, LEGO, Little Tikes, MEGA BLOKS, Learning Resources, Playskool, Radio Flyer, and Small World Toys.

Here are some aspects to consider when you are making selections:

It is said that we "get what we pay for," but, unfortunately, this is not always true.

Children have short attention spans; even the best toy will be used for only a short time.

You can learn a lot by observing which toys and other products your child plays with at preschool. Products that are too complex are frustrating, and those that are too easy are boring.

Only show the child how to use the product, if help is needed. It's best to allow children to discover things for themselves. They learn how to figure things out if given a chance to do this. It helps them to learn how to tackle challenges when they learn how to solve things on their own.

Toys offer a variety means for self-expression and creativity and can be used in many ways.

An angry child can use a foam bat and ball, a bop bag, or hand-puppets to safely express pent-up feelings. This is a lot safer and channels upsets in non-destructive ways.

For creativity, a child benefits from the use of clay, finger paints, crayons, art supplies like Do a Dot pens, and crafts.

To encourage learning, supply games and puzzles that involve the sorting of shapes, sizes and weights, plus a good variety of books and tapes.

Coordination and balance improve with physical activities. Eye-hand skills improve with a ring toss, bean bags, and construction products. Try to find activities that challenge, stimulate, arouse curiosity, elicit expression, and give the child a sense of satisfaction.

Whatever your preschool child does, it should be fun that demonstrates enthusiasm for play.

My book, Smart Play/Smart Toys, will provide more details on products that are best for preschoolers. You can also review my web site ( for specific suggested products.

Let's play!

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