Buying Toys - What You Need To Know

WHY TAKE TIME TO EVALUATE TOYS?

We can all agree that play is an important part of growing up. Fact is, by playing our children begin to learn life skills like cooperation, communication, problem-solving, and negotiation. Someone once said, “A child’s job is to play.” If this is so, then toys are the “tools” children use to do their “job”.

The toys you choose for your child determine their ability to do their “job” and the type of learning they will get out of their play. With all of the options today, more than ever children need to be encouraged to just play. They need to be encouraged to seek out an adventure, to stretch their imagination to the moon, and to discover the world around them.

So what is the secret formula?

Why does one toy get played with time and time again, and others sit in the closet or toy box to collect dust? To help answer these questions, become schooled in the three simple questions on how to evaluate a toy:
  • Does it meet the criteria of a “GREAT TOY” by being... INTERACTIVE, OPEN-ENDED and CREATIVE
  • Is the toy made with QUALITY parts and workmanship (will it stand up to rugged play?)
  • What is the toy’s TRUE COST? (TRUE COST is measured as “Cost per Hour of Play”. For example, an expensive toy that a child plays with for hours will have a lower TRUE COST than a cheap toy that loses the child’s interest or breaks after only minutes of play.)

Three criteria to look for in a GREAT TOY:

  • INTERACTIVE: A toy is “interactive” if it requires active participation by the person playing with it to make it work.

  • OPEN-ENDED: A toy is considered “open-ended” if there are many different ways to play with it, limited only by the imagination.

  • CREATIVE: A toy is considered “creative” if you must engage your imagination in some way to play with that toy.  

The more criteria a toy has, the LONGER A CHILD PLAYS with the toy.

 

TRUE COST is measured as “Cost per Hour of Play”

For example, an expensive toy a child plays with for several hours will have a lower TRUE COST than a cheap toy which loses the child’s interest or breaks after only minutes of play. Take careful consideration to measure the true cost of a toy. As a parent, grandparent, friend or caregiver your ability to properly evaluate toys will go a long way towards helping your children develop into a productive and thoughtful adults.

We’ve discussed a few tools to help you understand how to evaluate toys based on three criteria, and help you measure the True Cost of a toy purchase. These tools give you a guide for what types of toys have proven time and again to be sure-fire winners with kids.