Diwali – the festival of lights is one of the best times of year for most of us. At least for me, some of my fondest memories of childhood are associated with the festivals, especially Diwali & Navratri. It’s a festival that brings joy for everyone. My dad is happy on Diwali to receive his annual Bonus, my mom gets to showcase her cooking talent & gather all the appreciation & compliments she could. I get to dress up in those pretty ethnic wear attires, while my brother gets to go on a fun trip with his friends.
Apart from all the traditions that we used to follow, the one I loved the most was that after the Diwali Pooja, my dad used to give some money and a gift to the children of the house. I was lucky enough that my dad understood my preferences & I always used to receive either a book or an age-appropriate educational toy. I have tried to continue that tradition in my own way. I have realized the importance of early learning & education thus every Diwali, instead of gifting sweets or cloths to my students & my daughters, I make sure I give them something that helps them in learning & developing. This year too I plan to gift some fun learning toys to my daughters, my niece & all my students that would help build a better base for Mathematics, Science & Engineering!
So why is age-appropriate early learning important?
- Builds Enthusiasm for Lifelong Learning – The earlies a child develops a positive relationship with learning, exploring, reading etc, the more enthusiastic he is about learning & education in long run. Instead of becoming a burden, learning becomes fun.
- Builds Confidence & Self Esteem – If the learning material exposed to kids are appropriate for his age, which means help him develop the knowledge & skills required for his age & yet are challenging enough, the self-confidence of the child grows with each skill being mastered & leading to the next skill & next challenge. If the activity or learning goal is too easy or too difficult for the child, it might lead to frustration in the child.
- Builds Creative Imagination – Exposing a child to a variety of learning material helps him to develop a creative imagination which in long run proves to be fundamental for innovative thinking & problem-solving skills.
- Helps in understanding the world around – Providing kids with learning & education material helps them understand the world around them better & have a clear cause & effect relationship between different actions. It creates a balance in thinking thus preparing & enhancing their life skills for future.
What are some skills that kids can develop with thoughtfully designed learning activities & toys?
1) Gross Motor Skills – The skills to use the large muscles in the body are called the gross motor skills. Toys such as pull along toys & pick & drop toys help in developing the gross motor skills in children.
For example, this Pull Along Shape bus by Skola is a great toy to help kids develop their gross motor skills. Click the picture to buy this toy for Rs. 945.
2) Fine Motor Skills – The skills to use the smaller muscles, especially of hands & fingers are the fine motor skills. Toys that involve lacing, beading, nesting cubes, building blocks etc help kids develop fine motor skills.
For example, this Flowers & Toys threading toy by Skola is a great way of refining the fine motor skills in kids. Click the picture to buy this toy for Rs. 745.
3) Speech & Language Skills – The skill to understand & appropriately use language refers to speech & language skills. Apart from communicating with the kids & reading to them, toys & activities such as flash cards, pretend play & make-believe games, language cards (Alphabets & words etc) help them to develop speech & language skills.
For example, these alphabet cards by Skola that encourage print awareness, recognition of alphabets & learning phonics by discussions is a great tool to help kids develop their language skills. Click on the picture to buy these cards for Rs. 945.
4) Cognitive Skills – The skills to learn & solve problems are called cognitive skills. Puzzles, sequencing, shadow matching, arranging according to shape, color etc. are some activities & toys that can help a kid develop the cognitive skills.
For example, this Puzzle by Skola toys – Linking Blocks is a great way to build early cognitive skills in kids. Click on the picture to buy this puzzle for Rs. 845.
5) Social & Emotional Skills – The skill to interact with others, getting involved in co-operative play & activities and connecting with others are social & emotional skills that not only a child but we all learn throughout our lives. Exposing to dolls, construction toys, pretend play, encouraging group play & co-operative play helps kids develop their social & emotional skills.
For example, this toy by Skola that originally is meant to help kids understand the concept and shapes of geometry is a great way to help kids develop group play and pretend play games. Click to buy this toy for Rs. 1594.
Needless to say, a lot of physical play & unstructured playtime is also important for growing kids. But a balance between structured age-appropriate learning & unstructured fun time is really important. Thus I have decided to make learning toys & material to be an important part of lives of my daughters & students. What better way to integrate the same into a Diwali Gift. This way probably I will make learning special for them. While looking for appropriate gifts, among other brands of learning toys, one brand that stood out for me was Skola Toys – a brand of wooden learning toys recently launched in India.
The toys I browsed on Skola website are designed specifically keeping in mind the age & learning needs pertaining to corresponding age is not only a great learning tool for kids but also being wooden thus environment-friendly are safe for the kids to play with & to teach them a value of environment conservation & care. For younger kids – toddlers & preschoolers, they are a great way to build a base to be able to understand & learn better at school while for school going kids, these are great tools to strengthen & practically practice the theoretical concepts they learn at school. They are any day better than plastic toys or toys that do not aid any skill or learning.
So I am definitely gifting learning & education this Diwali to all the little kids in my life. I have decided to get Alphabet Puzzle Tray & Colour Wheels (Click for direct link) for my daughters this Diwali.
The sweets will be eaten & forgotten in a day, the diyas will last for a night. The cloths would be outgrown soon & money would be spent & forgotten too. But the skills & knowledge that would be gained with these toys, it will stay with them forever. What more can I ask for than to be a part of the learning & education journey of the kids in my life – whether it be my daughters, my niece, my friends’ kids or my students?
So what is your gifting plan this Diwali?