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Learning is not only fundamental - it can also be just plain old fun! Educational toys have so many benefits to a child’s life and growth; after all, your child’s playtime is his or her first real learning experience.

Once a child reaches infancy, he or she is ready to begin the learning process. Your child is probably already making connections between colors, shapes, words and pictures; toys that reinforce these connections are beneficial as your child learns language skills and begins to associate objects with their appropriate names. Picture books, toys that talk, and toys with shapes and bright colors are best at this age.

During the preschool years, your child is ready to begin learning his or her “ABCs” and “123s.” Toys that can be counted, toys that teach the alphabet and each letter’s various sounds, and DVDs or CDs that promote and encourage these skills are bound to be lots of fun for your child. This is also a particularly creative time for children of preschool through kindergarten age – big trains and cars (make sure they do not contain small pieces that can create a choking hazard!), puppets, blocks and puzzles will captivate their imaginations. Additionally, pretend play toys – such as play kitchens or tool sets – teach children real world skills while playing.

Interactive toys are the name of the game as your child begins school. Children from age five to eight will enjoy games that allow for hands-on practice with reading or math skills, as well as craft activities and toys that teach about scientific concepts. Children age eight and above will be attracted to kits that allow them to make a finished product, such as arts and crafts, writing, or bead and jewelry-making. Another clever way to combine education with enjoyment is through electronic games: your child will love the technology, and you’ll love that they are learning while they play.

The toys we buy should be fun for our children. If not, our children will tire of them quickly, and then we have wasted our money! Stick with brands that have been in the business of educating and entertaining children for a while, and make sure the toy is durable and safe. Combining learning with fun can be easy, and your child will thank you for it later!

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