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Workingmums’ child psychology expert is behind a new online Good Toy Guide, which launches in September.
The new free-to-use play advice website helps consumers navigate the plethora of toys to find products that are really suited to children’s needs and interests. The site also has free play ideas and user-friendly information about how children develop through play.
The Good Toy Guide claims to be the only site which has a rigorous testing process monitored in play clubs by trained professionals and the seal of approval for those toys that pass the evaluation process successfully.
Research presented at the International Toy Research Association by Workingmums.co.uk expert Dr Amanda Gummer found that parents and grandparents were confused about child development, toys and play.
Amanda says: “They were hungry for more information about how children play and how to help them develop important skills but didn’t know where to find the information.”
Parents turn to the internet first to try and find suggestions for good toys to buy but, until now, it’s been difficult to find reliable, independent advice, she adds. One parent commented: “On toy retail sites like Amazon or Toys R Us you get a list of what sells well, but you have no idea whether it is a good toy for your child – it might just sell well because it’s got Ben10 on it.”
All toys in the Good Toy Guide are tested by children under the supervision of trained observers on at least four different occasions in specially developed play clubs.
Amanda says: “This means that when the novelty appeal wears off observers are able to evaluate the real play value of a toy.”
There are options to click through to retail sites or find local stockists, but the Good Toy Guide team are fiercely protective of the site’s integrity and stress that this isn’t a retail site. Amanda says the Good Toy Guide’s aim is to help consumers have more confidence in the toys that they buy, as well as championing the benefits of play and celebrating the dedication of those toy manufacturers who do put the effort into producing really great toys.
She has also provided the following tips on how to encourage healthy child development through play:
1. Encourage a healthy play diet – mix and match different types of play throughout the day/week.
2. Don’t hot-house your child – learning through play is most effective when it’s child-led.
3. Leave them to it! Allowing your child to play with minimal adult supervision (safety issues notwithstanding) encourages him/her to develop skills that wouldn’t be promoted if you were always around to help solve problems or make decisions.
4. Make chores fun – encourage children to help with household chores in a fun ‘Mary Poppins’ way – playing catch with balled up socks etc. This helps them develop responsibility and a good work ethic whilst spending time together – getting jobs done allows more time for other fun activities.
5. Get other children involved. Social skills are developed when children play together and these skills are important for success in school and later life.