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As the trend to label toys as"educational" continues to rise, parents might wonder whether the hype associated with these kinds of toys is true and if they're worth the money. Here are five tips from toy and education specialists on which to consider when picking an educational toy to your child:
Remember low-tech

The tie between schooling and toys has ever existed with the ongoing wave of high-technology educational toys, many of the toys teachers and parents used to associate with learning might no longer be recognized for their instructional value. "The best toys are easy and open-ended," states Ellen Wild, chairperson of the Early Childhood Program in Dutchess Community College.
Wild suggests giving kids crayons, markers and plain paper, along with ribbons and envelopes to promote considering writing. She points into blocks, Legos, and manipulatives (think: stacking toys, shape sorters) to help develop modest muscles in the hands and fingers in anticipation of composing and also to help with perceptual motor abilities. Wild states that she does see kids that were entertained too solely by electronics and toys with"bells and whistles". "A lot of these children haven't heard persistence, an ability to focus without being amused," says Wild,"(They) haven't enjoyed being creative on their own and are not excited by books and learning."
READ MORE: The debate on educational toys
Individualize your approach
"Toys are tools in creating the learning environment," says Natasha Kravchenko, representative of Educational Toys Planet, an internet retailer since 2002. Kravchenko states it is very important to pick the ideal toy for your child's particular age, interest or stage. And not to buy exactly what want or what you wanted as a kid except to buy the toy that is suitable for your child's personality. She suggests considering which toys can make your child want to find something new, improve their skills, and encourage independent learning. "You can assess consumer's reviews and producer's era guidelines, but your choice should largely depend on your kid," says Kravchenko,"not other people's opinion about the toy"
Visit the land of make believe
"The best toys are ones that boost imagination and pretend play," says Nancy Werner, Kindergarten teacher at Traver Road School at Pleasant Valley. "These toys also develop with the child and they are able to use them for many purposes."
Werner, with a four-year older, indicates dress up clothes, play food and dolls to nurture creativity, creation of language and stories which lead to reading comprehension and writing skills. She also urges creative games which be played adults or other kids, like Candy Land, for growing counting, collaboration, turn taking and problem solving.
READ MORE: Toys to encourage learning
Be realistic

Parents should be careful about the promises made by instructional toy commercials. "Children can only grow at the pace they're capable."
Taylor claims that attempting to accelerate a child's growth can actually slow down it since children are forced to do things for which they are not developmentally ready. The outcome is that children are prevented from doing what they ought to be doing in their stage of development.
Be your child's first educational "toy"

"It is more important to have conversations with children and ask them questions to help them explain and think than to spend hundreds of dollars on a toy or video that will be just a 1 way'dialog'," says Werner.
Werner and Wild either point to books, either bought or borrowed, as being one of the best educational assets your youngster can own. And one of the best tools parents can use to educate their kids. "Among the very best educational'toys' to get a kid is the adult who spends time talking, studying, and enjoying the marvels of earth with (them)," says Wild.