Toy Tips for the Holidays by OT Professors

It’s the most wonderful time of the year once again and parents are starting to ponder on what gifts to buy for their tiny tots (or for their not-so-tiny youngsters).   Toys top the list since they don’t fail to make children giddy after opening their presents.  Two occupational therapy professors of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia have offered toys tips in an article posted on their website.

Tired of finding your children’s holiday gifts in the toy graveyard just days after they’re opened? Instead of shopping for the latest fad, parents are encouraged to buy their children toys that promote healthy childhood development and reinforce interpersonal relationships.

“It’s important to look for toys that allow for creativity, imagination, manipulation, and change,” explained Roger Ideishi, JD, OT/L, professor of occupational therapy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. “If a toy is static and doesn’t promote those concepts, it will probably end up in the corner.”

“Parents often feel like they have to rush and get, ‘the toy of the moment.’” said Paula Kramer, PhD, chair and professor of occupational therapy at USP. “These toys may be interesting, unique, and novel, but they’re not always the best thing for the child or the toy with the longest life.”

Rather than picking toys based solely on the year’s trends, Dr. Kramer and Ideishi recommend that parents consider their child’s specific needs and interests. While also being fun to play with, many toys can encourage healthy childhood development mentally and physically, and may be of extraordinary value to the child.

“Toys such as Legos® are great because they help build skills such as fine motor manipulation and creativity,” said Dr. Kramer. “They come with instructions on how to build certain things, but kids can choose to build anything they want.”

Developmental benefits of toys, such as shape and color familiarity, are easy to see in younger children. “But as kids get older, toys are still very important,” said Dr. Kramer. “Our kids today are often overscheduled and many of their activities are highly structured, so they need the areas of release toys provide.”

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