One of the most important developmental milestones in children is learning how to speak. It doesn’t always come naturally to a child, and kids develop at their own pace. So it’s crucial we provide them the experience and environment to encourage them to talk.
Toys play a crucial role in language development in children, but it doesn’t mean that you buy them toys that talk. In fact, toys that have a “human component” are the ones you want, says Cristina A. Aligada, M.A., principal of Laro, Lapis at Libro, Inc., a special school in Marikina and consultant for Special Education as well as a part-time faculty at the Department of Child Development and Education in Miriam College’s College of Education.
“Parents usually fall into the trap of buying toys that talk. They should instead consider toys that allow interaction,” says Aligada. “Kids are not supposed to be just given toys to play with and left alone in a playroom. They do not develop language that way.”
Aligada emphasizes to pick toys that encourage kids to play with their parents and kids their age. A child speaking to a grown-up or a playmate is the best way to develop language skills. During actual conversations, kids pick up nuances such as nonverbal expressions and gestures. They also vicariously learn about tone, vocabulary, and cues such as when to start talking and when to listen. A talking doll or singing book simply can’t do that.
Aligada adds that grown-ups should also think of toys that serve as conversation starters. She also recommends toys that allow kids to record themselves like toy phones or walkie talkies.
Toys that encourage interaction Here are toys that invite kids to learn about social and memory skills, and preposition concepts like in/out or in front/behind especially in stacking toys.
Lego Duplo Learn How Gardens Grow (age 1.5 to 5 years), P1,899, Toy Kingdom
Universe of Imagination Discovery Safari Marble Run (age 3 years up),Toys R Us
Mattel Uno Stacko, P1,499.75 or Uno card game, P199.75 (age 7 years up), both available at Metro in UP Town Center
Toys that encourage listening Aligada says that language is composed of receptive and expressive language. “When choosing toys, think of those that do not just target speaking skills, but also listening. For babies and toddlers, start with mobiles that have sounds. Rattles are good, too.” Toys with sounds are ideal especially those that mimic real musical instruments. These kinds of toys develop multiple skills in kids like gross and fine and motor skills that are related to good language development.
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Playgro Activity Rattle (age 3 to 18 months), P549.75, Metro at UP Town Center
Lamaze Bend and Squeak Panda (age newborn to 18 months), P399.75, Metro at UP Town Center
B Kids 3-in-1 Projector Musical Mobile (age 3 to 18 months), P2,199, Metro at UP Town Center
Leap Frog’s Alphapup (age 1 and up), P1,349.75, Metro at UP Town Center
Lamaze Musical Inchworm (age newborn to 18 months), P999.00, Metro at UP Town Center
Toys for pretend play Pretend and dramatic play is best done when a child has a playmate. It is one of the best ways to get a child to learn language and enrich his vocabulary. When kids, of course, come together they get to talk a lot and even imitate the kind of language needed in various situations such as buying in the market or playing a doctor. Playing house or “bahay bahayan” is simply so much fun for kids if they have mini versions of what can be seen in the house.
Play-Doh, P49.75 a tub, Toys R Us
Universe of Imagination Creations Ice Cream Station (ages 3 years and up), P699.75, Toys R Us
Just Like Home Microwave Oven (age 3 years and up), P899.75, Toys R Us
Baby Alive Brush Brushy (age 3 years and up), P1,699.75, Toys R Us
Peppa Pig Medic Case (ages 3 years and up), P758, Lazada.com.ph
Previously the chairperson of the Department of Child Development and Education at the College of Education in Miriam College, Therese Pelias continues to teach in the same department and is currently the project coordinator of the Growth, Upgrading and Resource Office under the same college.