Primary Schooler

Dr. Toy on What's Right for Primary-Grade Children©

Stevanne Auerbach, Dr. Toy!

March 26, 2006 (Revised)

Children grow quickly, rapidly moving through various developmental stages. During the primary grades they are actively expanding their interest in friendships, learning, and outdoor play. Peers are very important.

The types of toys their friends play with and their activities influence children as they spend time together.

Children express their ideas, creativity, feelings, abilities, and personality in play. They share the "give-and-take" and challenges of getting along.

Encouraging your child to play with both younger and older children provides a full range of social experiences.

You can choose among many useful play products for five- to eight-year-olds.

Active toys develop large and small muscles. Consider skates, jump ropes, construction, and adventure toys.

Creative toys develop imagination. Explore musical instruments, varied art supplies, crafts, a dollhouse, or a train layout.

Educational toys enhance learning in reading, writing, math, science, or geography. Stimulate your child's mental abilities, thinking process, and problem-solving skills with a chess set, strategy board game, a book, music or a musical instrument, science project, telescope, or a new hobby.

Select toys that will challenge the child to practice skills, expand abilities, and have fun independently.

Many great choices are available from such companies as Alex, Briarpatch, Educational Insights, Hasbro, LEGO, Leap Frog, Learning Resources, MEGA Bloks, Milton Bradley, Playmobil, Small World Toys, and Wild Planet.

Create special places for both quiet study and active play. Your child needs easy access to all the wonderful products you have purchased and also space to make things or create for themselves.

Find new ways to store playthings so your child can take responsibility for putting things away. Shelving makes storage easy. Boxes or bags can hold a lot. Shoe boxes are useful for tapes, small pieces, and art supplies. Large boxes can be decorated. A hammock is a good way to store stuffed and soft toys or dolls. A toy chest must have safety latches. Help your child learn to put toys away after they are used. This is safer and playthings last longer.

Take some time each day to play with your child. You will both enjoy spending time together playing checkers, a board game, a puzzle, or doing a craft. Quality time translates into fun and benefits everyone.

Here are some suggested toy products for this age group:

As resident Play Tutor, a very important job is to identify your child's talents -- and all of us have one or two, sometimes never discovered! The Play Tutor works to put the child in touch with those talents, sees which are of most interest, then supplies the support and materials to let the youngster take off!

At the same time, never, never push your child in a direction that is where the child does not want to go. The wrong direction may, more likely, be where you want to go! And one you may have neglected. Give the child ideals, love, and the freedom to seek its own course.

As examples, sketching, painting, modeling clay, woodworking, sewing or embroidery, needlework (cross-stitch, petit point, plastic canvas projects, or knitting), wood or linoleum engraving, leather work, model building, beadwork, photography -- are all arts in which your child might find a special interest. Other projects can include weaving with a loom, jewelry making, papier-mâché, creations, model trains, and throwing pottery.

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

Let's play!

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