In nature, young animals of all kinds exhibit playful behaviors. Wolf cubs grapple and treat their siblings as a kind of dry run that teaches them to protect themselves, their food, and their family members. Teenage monkeys bobbing and throwing fruit at each other while developing the social bonds that will hold the clan together for years to come. In these and countless other cases, play serves a vital purpose in the development of young animals, teaching and enhancing social skills and giving them the opportunity to master techniques that will enable them to survive on their own. In many respects, human children are no different. Since play is a vital part of their development and plays a major role in their future success as adults, it is important that we help them choose educational toys that will facilitate this process. In our mechanized and fast-paced world, the need for games that truly encourage growth and development cannot be overstated.
Educational or interactive games enable children to become active participants in play. Instead of doing all the work for them as many of the options currently available do, these learning games may provide structure, but allow kids plenty of room to use their limitless imagination and creativity. Paradox, for example, is a video game that takes the player through a science process using an actual chemistry set that allows a budding scientist to conduct real experiments of their own. Without a doubt, more learning will happen in the case of the latter, through its hands-on approach and trial and error.
Attention has recently also been focused on the increase in childhood obesity resulting not only from unhealthy diets, but also due to an increasing focus on activities in which children only passively participate. Exercising their fingers on gaming devices certainly isn’t conducive to physical fitness. Sensing the trend toward interactive options that encourage active participation, consumer-oriented companies are turning out ingenious options that combine the magic of electronics with old-fashioned movement. One notable toy company, for example, offers an exercise bike for preschoolers that connects to a TV. When the child pedals, he can play games that then appear on the screen. Stop pedaling and the game will definitely be a motivator that will keep a beginner pedaling long after he otherwise would have stopped. Children’s DVD makers have also jumped on the bandwagon by producing interactive shows. An aspiring dancer no longer needs to be content with simply watching the performers on DVD. These days, he or she can learn the techniques step by step, taught by the experts themselves. It may not be a substitute for tutoring, but no one can call this passive play.
educational f Interactive games It has a hidden benefit, too: It promotes what might be called immersive parenting. In other words, caregivers can choose to become part of the fun themselves, not just spectators looking for games or activities. Whether families use interactive games to practice ballet movement or to concoct a chemical compound, these educational options truly enable families to play and learn together. As adults, it’s all too easy to assume we know it all or that we’ve seen it all. There’s nothing like indulging in children’s games to show even the most weary and cynical of adults that life is still full of untapped resources and endless exploration.