Expert Advice

Keri’s Ideas About Toys:

1.  Children are the best creators of fun and innovative ways to play differently with the same toy. Encourage them to create new versions of games and play along, even it seems like a silly idea. Some of my best treatment strategies have been created by children, for when they have ownership of new ideas, they are inherently more motivated to learn from these challenges and take risks in a positive way.

2.  Think about where and how you play a game, toy or puzzle. You can improve a child’s strength by all lying on your tummies on the floor to play, so get creative and don’t always sit in the same places at the kitchen table. Rather than sitting to complete a puzzle at the table, incorporate the pieces by leaving them in a pile on the opposite side of the room and carry them items through a tunnel or over couch cushions as part of an obstacle course before placing the piece in its proper location.

3.  The age range of a game is not always limited to the age on the outside of the box.  With simple modifications games can be played with children of all ages at the same time, so don’t always follow the rules strictly. Just because a game is labelled for four year olds, doesn’t mean it’s not effective at 7, because even though a child may know the academic skill, it may be easier to use a game they can easily play to promote more challenging skills such as learning to taking turns or enhance social communication skills with feelings.

4.  Loud sounds, music and bright lights are not essential.  Look for toys that have a switch to turn these features off while you provide the cheering and sound effects to enhance a child’s self-esteem and social skills.

5.  Every time an interaction with a child occurs, whether it’s through a game or toy, there is always a cost benefit analysis.  Make small goals and think, what would I like my child to gain positively from this experience? Are they working on developing good fine motor skills to hold the game pieces, enhancing their communication skills, or learning to take turns to be a better winner/loser?