WHAT IS AN OPEN-ENDED TOY
As the name suggests, these are toys that do not have set rules on how to be played. They are designed so that children must use their imagination and ingenuity to get the most fun out of the toy.
Open-ended toys can be anything from a simple sticks and boxes than can be used to make simple forts to magnetic building blocks than can bring out the best of a child’s creativity. In the end, as long as a good majority of the input comes from the child rather than toy itself, that toy can be considered an open-ended toy.
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WHY YOUR CHILD SHOULD PLAY WITH OPEN-ENDED TOYS
1. NURTURES DESIRE FOR LEARNING
Unlike most toys that provide kids with specific instructions to play, open-ended toys lets your child use their creativity by having them play without constraints. They are able set their own rules, craft their own make-believe environment, and build stuff using only their imagination.
By giving children the freedom to observe, explore, and create, you also allow them to learn things at their own pace. In turn, they are more inclined to feel a greater sense of achievement every time they try out new ideas as they assume what they did was up to them rather than something they were forced to do.
2. PROMOTES INDEPENDENCE
Open-ended toys create a relaxing environment where kids have the time and space to come up and implement new ideas with minimal supervision. It also allows them to take risks, solve problems, and learn from mistakes - valuable skills that could help them later in life.
Children are also inquisitive by nature and would rather prefer to find out how things work rather than ask an adult. By giving them greater autonomy during playtime, you help build their confidence and self-esteem which in turn aids in their overall emotional development.
3. IMPROVES PATIENCE AND FOCUS
Children and especially toddlers are hard-wired for instant gratification and it would benefit them if parents curb this trait whenever possible. Open-ended toys help a great deal in this regard by having your child put in the effort in order to play, delaying gratification and teaching that value of patience.
By letting them create, open-ended toys also improves your child’s ability to focus as it requires them to concentrate on the task at hand before moving to another. The plain nature of these toys also offer little to no distractions during playtime allowing for more streamlined play.
4. KEEPS UP WITH THEIR GROWTH
Unlike most toys, open-ended toys are more likely to keep up with your child’s growth. As the majority of the input comes from the player rather than they toys themselves, they can always find new ways to enjoy them.
These include using them alongside their newer toys or simply finding more creative and elaborate ways to play with them. This is great for cost-conscious parents as it means you can reduce the number of toys you need to buy and store at home while at the same time allow you to invest in high quality toys.
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GET YOUR CHILD INTERESTED IN OPEN-ENDED TOYS
If your kids have never experienced open-ended toys, they might be hesitant to to make the switch or even try them out. If this happens there are a few ways that you can get them interested.
PLAY WITH THEM
Being a hands-on parent and showing your kids what they can achieve is the easiest way to get them interested in open-ended toys. Not only does it become a special bonding time but your they will develop an interest in these educational toys with very little effort.
For kids that need more than a little push, parents can also limit screentime in exchange for more opportunities for play. It allows kids to organically develop a love for open-ended toys and also serves as a less drastic way of keeping them away from TV shows and video games.
MAKE THEM MORE ACCESSIBLE
Once your kids get the hang of their new open-ended toys, it’s time to ensure they get the most of it. One way to do this is by making them easier to access than their other toys. You can place them in a box on the floor or on the lowest shelf. This way, you are indirectly influencing their decision and making them “choose” open-ended toys by default every time they want to play.
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