Toys and games to help children's learning including ball games, Lego and jigsaws
With children having spent more time at home in the last year than ever before, old toys and games have been rediscovered whilst toy retailers report increases in parents buying toys to encourage learning in the absence of school.
Toys and games can improve a child's communication skills, thinking and fine motor skills - meaning that if you're worried your children have spent more time playing than completing school work in the last few weeks or months there will still have been huge benefits to their development.
Penny Georgiou, director of Access 1st, which offer needs assessments, advice and support for disabled students, says play is extremely valuable at any age.
She explained: "Play is valuable in multiple ways at any age. This is because play sets creative foundations for the ongoing development of all skills and abilities, including handling emotions, creative imagination, accessing and experiencing embodied excitement, exhilaration, joy, satisfaction and laughter.
"It also gives a child an ability to pass quickly through emotions like frustration, anger and disappointment."
Online toy shop BargainMax.co.uk is amongst those to report sales increases in parents shopping for digital-free learning toys, particularly during last week's February half term holiday.
A spokesman said: "We’ve seen an influx of parents searching for toys that will help improve their child’s learning and development while they’re at home.We think this is great news, because certain toys can help improve your child’s communication skills, critical thinking and dexterity."
Regardless of a child's stage of development Penny Georgiou says there are age-appropriate toys and games which support development and learning and different toys will improve a child's learning in different ways.
For example, Lego and construction toys can help a child’s imagination, dexterity, focus, calm and patience while puzzles or jigsaws can improve a child's language skills, dexterity, posture and timing.
From trampolines to trains, musical toys to play-doh, Penny shares some toy suggestions and their benefits below...
Toys for body movement and co-ordination:
Tricycles, bikes and skatebaords
Trampolines and climbing toys
Ball games like tennis and volleyball
Jigsaws, puzzle style games or building blocks
Toys for communication and speech:
Music and singing toys can help develop voice projection and body awareness
Board games, card games and dominoes which enourage human interaction and aid strategic thinking
Dolls, teddies and other role play toys will allow children to enjoy imaginary play and social interaction
Toys for maths and science skills:
Bubbles can teach children about gases, vague states, structures and disappearances
Play-Doh and plasticine help motor skills but also understanding of shape
For social and emotional development:
Interactive and solitary ball games are helpful, say experts, because they are unpredictable and so generate emotion.
Alongside physical benefits these kinds of games can develop a child’s ability to handle sudden changes with skill and dexterity.