Friday, July 24, 2009

Some Primary Ways Children Develop

Through Physical Activity
In infancy, babies move reflexively with no intention or control. During the first year, the child’s movements become intentional, more refined and more coordinated.

At first, infants makes broad, awkward sweeps while attempting to reach a desired toy…a few months later, they reach out and neatly wrap their fingers around the toy and bring it to them…years later, those children are jumping a hurdle cleanly or running a relay race.

Especially helpful in this developmental area are toys that require children to use their bodies during play – building, stacking, constructing, pushing, pulling, shaking, turning, spinning, threading, squeezing, kicking, throwing, etc.

Through Mental Activity
Mental abilities are related to thinking, learning, creating, knowing, recognizing, developing concepts, organizing ideas, remembering, problem solving, understanding cause-and-effect relationships, developing rules, drawing inferences, etc. Babies reach out and find that a mobile moves when they touch it (ah-ha…cause-and-effect!)…they later hold the memory of Dad or Mom leaving, knowing they will return…and much later, they retain an understanding of square root as they work through an algebra problem.

Helpful in this area of development are books, games, puzzles, sand, water, clay; toys with various shapes, colors and sizes; and open-ended toys which have many possible outcomes.

Through Interaction with Others
From the moment of birth, children begin to form relationships with others – bonding to those who love them – and begin to form an understanding of themselves which will hopefully be positive and well-nurtured by those around them. As they grow, they are able to handle many and varied relationships and growth within themselves, even making complicated judgments and taking responsibility.

Toys that enhance this area of development are games, stuffed animals, puppets, dolls, art materials, costumes, play figures, instruments, etc.

Through Creativity
Creativity is the expression of one’s originality and imagination. We do not know what exists in the imagination of an infant, but in the second and third years of life we begin to see the expression of the child through imaginative play. As a child’s mind and body grows, they are better able to explore all the countless expressions of their creative self… pretend play, art, music, drama, writing, invention.

To nurture this area of development, open-ended playthings which have many possible outcomes are helpful: sand, water, construction sets, art materials, dolls, stuffed animals, play figures, vehicles, music and instruments, costumes and props, child-sized dishes and tools, etc.

To find toys that fit into each of these catagories for your children, check out my website: If you have any questions, I would be happy to help you.

Cara Retz
Discovery Toys, Educational Consultant

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