Experts say early child development occurs during the first five years and have a huge impact on how well the child develops, the New Times reports. This effect continues on towards adult life, too.
The experts also say toys have a big role in all of this. Toys help stimulate the baby’s sense of touch, sight, hearing, imagination and dexterity.
But, it’s also important to pick the right toys. If you do, then children will have better muscle coordination, better fine and gross motor skills, and develop faster in general.
“Parents are advised to provide their babies with toys such as music boxes, rattles, or toys that squeak or play music when pressed. The sense of sound helps your baby develop their language skills and thought processes. When a baby observes that the toy makes a sound when pressed or shaken in a certain manner, they will be able to deduce patterns of cause and effect,” says Yvette Isimbi, a teacher at Blooming Buds Nursery School in Kigali.
“Colourful toys hanging in the room help stimulate your baby’s sense of sight. Once their sense of sight improves, it will serve to motivate your baby to interact more and more with their surroundings,” she says.
But toys have other benefits as well. “As children play they learn to cope with frustration, to try to improve, to share with others, and to give vocal expression of their thoughts and fantasies. We as teachers are enabled to identify individual behaviour or character during this interaction. For instance, a child may act aggressively to keep the toy to himself and what we do is to approach him and teach him that it is bad to be selfish or unsocial. Parents also can do the same to learn about different characters of their children by introducing them to group plays using toys,” Grace Ayebale, a nursery teacher at Kigali Parents says.
“Some parents think that they need to buy toys, but some simple household utensils can serve that purpose without spending extra money. Toys can also be homemade. For instance, dolls can be made from old clothes, balls made from banana leaves or colourful paper toys to hang inside the child’s room,” Pierre Nzeyimana, the early childhood officer at the UNICEF Rwanda says.
What’s important in all cases is for parents not to view toys as a way to distract children and give them something to do. Actually, they should use the toys to connect and spend time together with their kids. “Fathers tend not to think they have anything to do with playing with their children but they need to change and create some space to help their children learn though play .You can buy thousands of toys for your child hoping to help them grow, but if you can’t be involved as parents toys alone can’t do much,” he advises.