As a mom and an eye doctor I always tried to buy toys for my kids that were not just fun but that also helped develop their visual skills. One of the most important things to remember when buying gifts for kids is to keep it age appropriate. Nothing is worse than a kid who receives a toy or game that is frustrating to play because it is above the child’s skill set. Most toys have age levels printed on the front so it’s easy to stick to the age guidelines. Although iPad games and electronic devices may seem like super hot gifts, they actually can overstimulate young minds and experts recommend sticking to “classic” toys as gifts.
Dr. Mary Gregory (Omni Vision and Learning in Minnesota) and Dr. Kellye Knueppel (Vision Therapy Center in Wisconsin) are optometrists who specialize in developmental optometry and each has created her own list of toys that helps nurture specific visual skills. Here is an abridged list of my favorites.
- Eye/hand coordination – toys like Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys and Legos
- Visual Memory – remember the game Simon with the colored flashing lights? Oldie but goodie.
- Visual Perceptual skills – there are a lot of toys out there that fit into this category, including jigsaw puzzles, Battleship, Go Fish, Bingo, Old Maid , dominoes, and Bop It.
- Visual Motor Integration and Fine Motor skills – finger painting, bead stringing, Lite-Brite (love this one) and Spirograph.
- Imagination – any toy that allows you to play “pretend” falls in this category – current toys such as Fingerlings, Polly Pocket (yes, they are back!), and these adorable plushy pets called Pomsies are all on the Good Housekeeping’s list of top toys of 2018.
No matter what toys you buy for the little ones in your life this holiday season it’s the time you spend face to face with your child that is the most rewarding present of all.