Educational Gifts

Written by Sierra Rein
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Most parents will accept educational gifts for their children at any time of the year. Although birthdays and the Christmas holiday season are perfect for the gift-giving spirit, learning tools should be welcome at any opportunity. This is especially true if a child is having trouble with a specific subject in class or is bored with his or her current collection of toys. Small gifts throughout the year can help a child find a continuous enjoyment of learning and help them go to school with light feet rather than heavy ones.

According to psychologists, there are two basic types of educational toys: curriculum and cognitive. Curriculum-based toys focus on the knowledge that has already been learned by the child and helps them understand the "hows" and "whys" of pre-determined facts and concepts. Cognitive-based toys are designed to stimulate a number of areas of the brain and to help children connect their physical and mental skills together. The best cognitive toys are created to teach children how to develop skills that will be used in complex ways as an adult.

When choosing appropriate educational gifts, always keep in mind that certain ages respond better to particular types of toys and activities. A baby or toddler will be able to spend hours at a time with toys that allow her to touch, feel, move, dance, build, and deconstruct, while an older student will learn more from gifts that stimulate his mental and imaginative sides. Most psychologists will agree that the best toys are those that are built with 20 percent toy and 80 percent of the child's unique imagination. The worst educational products are those that place the child in the role of a passive participant, like electronic games and non-interactive videos.

Don't Cut Corners on Educational Gifts

Although it may be tempting, it is sometimes antithetical to go with a cheap imitation rather than a toy of high quality. For example, why purchase a child a baby watch when one can find well-made kids' watches for almost the same price? Remember, poorly made educational gifts that break and malfunction can actually frustrate children and discourage them from learning.

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