McKinney Mommas: Age Appropriate Toys & Milestones Resource by VTech Google+

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Age Appropriate Toys & Milestones Resource by VTech

Ever wonder if your kids are playing with toys that are at the appropriate level, to help them meet important developmental milestones?

If you're unsure which toys to choose this season as gifts (and throughout the year), VTech has compiled a panel of experts, including Dr. Lise Eliot, an Early Childhood Mental Development Expert, to create a Milestones resource that I found helpful.

Baby O, playing with her new VTech Roll & Surprise Animal Train

VTech also happens to be the company that created one of my home's favorite toys - the VTech Learn & Dance Interactive Zoo. All three of my girls have gotten use out of this toy, and finally after 4 years of hard play, it's on it's last legs. But, now I can use this Milestones resource to figure out which toys should come next for my three bambinos.

My youngest baby, at almost 9 months has hit a few milestones recently. The biggest one being WALKING! She started taking her first few steps before her 8 month birthday, but now at almost 9 months, she's almost running (seriously). 

Here is an introduction to tracking your child's developmental milestones by one of the experts that has collaborated with VTech to create awesome educational (and fun) toys. 

Now, if you are a visual learner, here is the link to the Milestones resource that will help guide your choices for the best toys for your kiddos.

The guide is broken down by ages from newborn to 9 years old, and each age range will include three categories of learning which you can use to search for the appropriate milestones in:
  • Language & Cognitive
  • Social & Emotional Development
  • Physical & Motor

I used the resource to find out that my 2 year old should be, 
  • Singing the ABC song - CHECK!
  • Walking up and down steps independently - CHECK!
  • Progresses toward potty training towards end of year - ACCOMPLISHED already!
  • Behaves stubbornly and asserts her opinion by saying "no" - umm, CHECK! 
of course there is lots more on the list, but these were a few I thought I'd share with you.

You know, I'm a firm believer in "no question is a dumb question" so, here's a few Q&A's from mothers that might ring true for you too, answered by professionals on the VTech Milestone's Panel:

Q. As a stay-at-home mom, I feel like I'm responsible for most of my toddler's learning the first couple of years. How can I ensure that I'm teaching him all he needs to know? What are the best games or play to help him learn basics things like numbers, colors, words, etc.?

A. Children learn through play, so almost any activity is a learning opportunity for your child.   Show your child how to count banana slices at lunch time, or toothbrush strokes at bedtime.  Read ABC books to him to teach letter sounds and recognition.  But don't worry too much about academic skills in younger children.  Most important at this age is for children to learn the joy of discovery.  Try to avoid drilling exercises (like flashcards) and instead focus on learning about the real world around him--animals, people, vehicles, music, art--whatever you encounter through books or the world outside that excites your child.  When kids find a passion and get absorbed in it, early literacy and number skills follow easily.

Q. What if it seems like your child isn't reaching a particular milestone, what can you do to facilitate the learning of it?  While every child is different, are there any Milestones (when not achieved on schedule) a parent should be concerned about?

A. It's important for parents to know what milestones to expect, because failure to reach them can be a warning sign of a developmental delay.  For social skills, we like to see babies making eye contact early on, and worry if it doesn't happen by 3 months or age, or if s/he is not sharing facial expressions or some other kind of back-and-forth communication by 9 months. For language skills, we worry when children are saying no words by 16 months, or only a few words at 2 years, and when there is any loss of communication ability at any age.  For motor skills, it is concerning if a baby cannot bring an object to his or her mouth by 7 months, sit independently by 10 months, or walk by 18 months. If your child isn’t reaching these milestones, talk to your pediatrician, who may propose additional testing and exercises you can do with your child at home to promote his or her development.

I hope this has encouraged you as a parent to take some time to find developmentally appropriate toys and remember that PLAY at an early age is a key component to your little one's educational future

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