Looking for gifts for kids?
The holidays are filled with anticipation of gifts and new toys. When making decisions for selecting new toys, parents need to tell Santa and loved ones to pick eye-safe and age appropriate toys for children.
So, in general, what toys should parents avoid? Toys with pointed, sharp or rough edges or pieces. Blocks are great for almost any age as long as corners and edges are blunted to reduce the risk of eye injury. Also, to avoid eye injuries, beware of long-handled toys, like mops, brooms, pony sticks and rakes. Check to make sure that they have rounded handles and watch closely children under two 2 with such toys.
Be careful to avoid toys that may be age appropriate for an older child but could be dangerous for a younger child. Always supervise children in situations when they might share an inappropriate toy with a younger sibling.
While children may be asking Santa for the latest computer and video games, there are some tried-and-true toys that children love, are safe and they help your child build vital learning skills. If your child spends too much time on the computer (and add to that prolonged TV watching), he or she won't develop many of the underlying visual skills required for academic success.
Just as motor skills and learning and cognitive skills require development, vision also requires development and can benefit from a variety of toys and activities. And developing a child's visual skills is critical to success in the classroom. Did you know there are over 20 visual skills in addition to being able to see "20/20"? These skills are vital to reading and learning in children.
This holiday season, you can help your child by looking for toys to help with building eye-hand coordination, shape and size discrimination (important for reading), general movement skills (for everything from writing to sports), space and distance judgments (crucial for driving and sports), left/right awareness (vital in avoiding reversals), visual thinking, visualization and visual memory skills (enable us to develop concepts).
Below are guidelines from the American Optometric Association for certain types of toys and activities for different age children:
Toys: Bright balls, blocks, zippers, rocking horse, riding toys pushed with the feet.
Activities: Throwing a ball.
Toys: Pencils, markers, crayons, bean bag/ring toss games, peg-hammering toys, sorting shapes/size toys, puzzles, blocks.
Activities: Read to your child, outdoor play barefoot, catch.
THREE TO SIX
Toys: Building toys with large snap-together components, stringing beads, puzzles, pegboards, crayons, finger paint, chalk, modeling clay, simple sewing cards, large balls, match-up-shape toys, tricycle, connect-the-dot games, sticker books/games.
Activities: Climbing, running, using balance beam, playground equipment.
For older children, here is a list of toys which not only are fun to play with, but they help develop some of the many visual skills that are critical to reading and learning: Battleship Game, chalkboard, Tinker Toys, Erector set, Boy Scout signal set, pegboard and pegs, coloring books and crayons, dot-to-dot drawing books, jigsaw puzzles, Twister, building blocks, Playskool Color Blocks, Indian beads for threading, painting by number, Playskool Parquetry Blocks, model cars and airplanes, card games such as Old Maid, dominoes, Lego, Lincoln Logs, sewing cards, checkers, tiddlywinks, Concentration, ring toss, Chinese checkers, finger paints, action darts Velcro board and Velcro-covered balls.
Have a fun, safe, and healthy holiday season by encouraging your children to round out their activities with some of these tried and true games. If you find your child doesn't like these games, it could be a sign of a vision problem in which case you should schedule a developmental vision evaluation with an optometrist who provides an in-office program of optometric vision therapy. For more information on what a developmental vision evaluation is and how vision develops, you can visit visionforlearning.org or nwvisiontherapy.com.
This press release is from Peter M. Charron, an optometrist with the Northwest Vision Development Center, 1616 Cornwall Ave. Suite 105, Bellingham.