Monday, December 28, 2015

Sticking with blocks and dolls

When my son was a baby we had a lot of toys that made noise. Press a button, and something would make a sound and light up. We ended up removing the batteries from a lot of the toys because there was no volume control and they were just too loud. I liked playing with simple toys with my son: Board books, blocks, cars. And that seems to be what he loved playing with the most, too. I remember many afternoons of him lining up long rows of cars and crawling/smashing through the soft-block cities I created for him.

It turns out that those "simpler" toys may be the better choice for language development. Researchers studied parent-baby interactions with a variety of toys and found that the electronic toys elicited less interaction from parents. Researchers involved in the study observed that the parents would let the toy do the talking for them.

I like this study - even though it is small - because it points out that parents probably don't even realize that they are talking less when electronic toys are present. Most parents understand the importance of their interactions with baby leading to better language skills overall (and, as we've seen, better language skills leads to better math skills), so it's important to note that parents are not purposefully trying to avoid talking to their children. It's just that they don't want to compete with the noise.

What is the noisiest toy in your home right now? Tell me in the comments.

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