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December 17, 2018

Education expert recommends best toys for babies, toddlers and preschoolers

The Importance of Spending the Holidays with Family and Friends and Some Gift-giving Ideas for Early Learners

The holiday season is upon us, and that brings both stress and excitement for the family.  Establishing and celebrating family traditions is critical and essential, both for young children and their families. It is the frame of reference through which young children learn their value within their home and school, as well as how families view their significance in the community. When families engage in traditions, they are creating healthy connections and memories  with  their children. This is an important step for building meaningful and bonding moments (healthy attachments), which is part of emotional intelligence in young children. 

When families place value on the history and customs of their family’s heritage, children gain support through language, storytelling relationships, traditions and routines. It is important that these rituals and routines be embraced in loving and supportive environments. Holiday traditions bring us together and allow for quality time within the family. One of the best things about spending quality time with your children is developing strong relationships with them. This helps build trust between a parent and child. These traditions benefit a child’s development and support their emotional health as they approach each developmental milestone during their childhood years.

RELATED: Kids recommend their favorite books to inspire gift ideas for you!

Families can start their own traditions to enjoy. For example, one of our training coaches has daughters and they recently shared one such tradition with me. This tradition began when the children were very young and they each picked a name of a child in need from an “Angel Tree”. The funds for this gift come from the children deciding which of the gifts on their list they would be willing to give up so a child can have a special holiday. If you continue each year, children become more mature and generous as they age, making a difference for others less fortunate. This tradition has the potential to move through generations and impact many people. 

RELATED: 8 places to donate new toys in Tampa Bay

If your child is looking to give gifts to less fortunate children, here are some inexpensive gift-giving ideas categorized by age that offer major developmental benefits for young children. These types of toys naturally support skills such as problem-solving, persistence, creativity and imagination (among others), which are foundational for later learning: 

 Birth to 6 months:

  • Soft rattles  fit perfectly into little hands, allowing infants to take a closer look. They can practice grabbing and dropping them which is great to refine small motor skills.
  • Baby Friendly mirrors  work well for encouraging baby social skills.
  •   Soft Squishy Books  encourage early literacy skills.
  • A  Shape Sorter will grow with baby from 0-3 years. 

 7 – 12 months:

  • Bath Time Toys  like wash cloth puppets, watering cans, bath time books and tea sets are gifts that encourage persistence, creativity and exploration.
  • Activity Tables can provide older infants with a new view and exploring with cause and effect.
  • Stacking and Nesting bowls or cups  encourage problem solving and eye hand coordination. 

 Toddlers and Twos:

  • Musical Instrument Sets  encourage hand eye coordination, experimentation and listening skills.
  • Large Piece Puzzles  encourages problem solving skills and spatial relationships.
  • Board Books  encourages a love for reading and early literacy skills.
  • Soft Building Blocks  will develop skills in problem solving, imagination, self-expression and mathematics. 

 Ages 3 to 5:

  • Wooden Unit  Blocks  such as Lincoln Logs  help to develop problem solving, imagination, self-expression, mathematics and working cooperatively with friends.
  • PlayDoh encourages social and emotional development, creativity, imagination, language development, science, math and physical development.
  • Dolls  encourage social and emotional skills, especially empathy.
  • Art Supplies  such as water color paints, paper, tape and scissors expose young children to multiple fine motor and eye hand coordination skills. Art encourages imagination and language development. It is also symbolic which helps with emerging literacy skills.


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