Study: Any toy good if a parent plays too

Dec. 22, 2011 at 12:13 AM
| License Photo

ST. LOUIS, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Some parents prefer to buy educational toys, but children benefit from any toy if their parents play with them and engage them, a U.S. researcher advises.

R. Keith Sawyer of Washington University in St. Louis, an expert on creativity and improvisation, said toys can play an important role in a child's education and development, especially for children who haven't reached first grade yet.

"Most of the toys geared at children age 6 and younger are based on an educational theory known as constructivism," Sawyer said in a statement. "Constructivism is the idea that children create their own knowledge by actively participating in the learning process. Playing with toys -- even something as simple as blocks -- allows children to create their own play environment and stimulate their imagination."

However, any kind of toy is good for young children -- as long as it is safe, of course, well-constructed and age-appropriate, Sawyer said.

"Parents can relax a little bit," he said. "There aren't really any bad toys or bad kinds of play. Because of my research on children's improvisation during fantasy play -- which leads to all sorts of social and conversational advancement -- I like to see pretend play that is more loosely structured and more improvisational."

It's not the toy that incites the learning process in a younger child, but the interaction between the child and parents, Sawyer said.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories
Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to DNA cell repair pioneers
Priest suspended after defending pedophilia in TV interview
U.S. asks how Islamic State militants got so many Toyotas
At least 17 dead in Carolinas, more flooding expected
NASA releases thousands of Apollo mission photos on Flickr