Toys for learning are perfect for keeping young learners engaged. It is an obvious solution since we all know kids love toys. But toys are much more than mindless ways to distract your children. In fact, toys are critical in early childhood development.
Keep reading to learn what the advantages and challenges of toys for learning are and how you can turn EdTech into its own educational toy! Also check out ViewSonic’s education solutions to learn about more opportunities for your classroom.
Toys are important for young learners. Tapping into a student’s interests and mindset is how you can make learning successful. Nearly every young learner wants to have fun and making your resources into toys is easier than expected.
Educational technology, or EdTech for short, is often given to middle- and higher-level learners. This is because it promotes things like collaboration and advanced critical thinking. But that is not to say it cannot be useful for young learners as well if done in a fun and interactive way.
Why are Toys for Learning Important?
Research shows that toys and playtime are a critical part of a child’s development. But using toys for learning is also a cheat for accelerated learning. In fact, toys and play are some of the many ways to help your child learn faster.
With the rise of EdTech we are given many more opportunities to make learning fun and accessible.
3 Advantages of Toys for Learning and EdTech
It’s a given that young learners are not interested in typing classes or advanced engineering. They want to do things like look at bugs and put finger paints all over the wall. But that does not mean we have to completely remove EdTech in their classrooms as it has some great benefits for students.
Prepare Them for the Future
As a parent or teacher, you have probably heard at some point how we are “preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist.” This is a response to the advancements made in technology that will require advanced STEM skills. Exposing students to technology early is key for developing an early aptitude.
However, the use of technology does not have to be so convoluted. In fact, there are many advantages to having skills in technology outside of STEM-related needs. Whether they want to become a surgeon who uses medical bots, or an animator like their favorite Pixar movie, technology makes this all much more accessible for anything a student wants to become.
Enhance Problem-Solving Skills
Many toys out there are made to help students learn by trial and error, like wooden puzzles or color matching blocks. Using EdTech like a tablet is a great way to introduce a wider range of game options for students. Many companies have created multiple apps catering to a large range of subjects.
Using these kinds of games are great because it forces the child to use their brain, thus developing lower level-problem solving skills even if it is simply memory-based in the beginning.
Many EdTech solutions like the ViewBoard, tablets, and portable monitors are great for digital whiteboarding. While we cannot expect young learners to create cohesive collaboration plans, you can expect them to think outside the box with such a versatile technology. For example, a teacher could open large coloring book activities and give each student a chance to color one part of the picture using the board. Or classes can gamify lessons and activities with fun, visual scoring methods.
By doing this you instill creativity and give the students a sense of teamwork. At the end, you can even print out the finished product for everyone to take home.
3 Challenges of Using Toys for Learning and EdTech
Using toys for learning alongside EdTech isn’t always fun and games. In fact, it can cause a great deal of trouble in the classroom. These can range from bad grades or behavioral issues to broken toys and damaged screens. Knowing how to navigate toys and EdTech is important for maintaining peace within the classroom.
Traditional Learning Becomes Boring
One downside of using toys for learning is that textbooks become boring. While many students do love to read, they may not enjoy math books or coloring books designed for labelling. With that in mind, it is important to not use EdTech as a reward but rather an integrated part of your curriculum.
EPiC is a program that focuses on what they call educational play inspired curriculum. Their curriculum focuses on play while working closing with the early learning and development standards of Connecticut. It can differ from state to state but it is a great benchmark and example of how useful play and toys are in a child’s learning process.
Inclusive Learning and Adaptive Toys
Adaptive toys can be a challenge for some schools or teachers wanting to implement more play into their learning. While there are many assistive technologies options programed into EdTech software, it can be difficult to fit every need. For example, an adaptive pen for writing on interactive whiteboards or braille options for students who have hearing and vision impairments are things EdTech may not be able to easily provide.
If you are aiming for an inclusive classroom but cannot find EdTech solutions to accommodate your students, implement traditional toys and do not use EdTech to teach things that cannot be taught with traditional toys. Instead use EdTech to create group activities that all students can participate in like follow along, point-and-click, or identifying picture differences.
Is Not One-Size-Fits All
Believe it or not, not all kids like toys! Research has shown that less toys can benefit children. So before you buy out the toy store, keep in mind that not all students learn the same way. Some kids perform better reading those boring textbooks or doing simple worksheets. So do not use a completely toy-based curriculum.
Offer a variety of activities for students, but also be aware that if some students are falling behind, they will need supplementary work or alteration to help them succeed. While toys and fun EdTech seems perfect, every pedagogy has room for trial and error to find the best method.
Toys for learning is a great way to keep your littlest learners engaged. But keep in mind it can be difficult to manage since kids live for fun! None the less, it is a useful and effective pedagogy to implement into any young learner curriculum
If you have older students, or just want to learn a little bit more about what we do here at ViewSonic, check out our education solutions for more information or read about 5 interactive presentation ideas that will engage students using EdTech.