Developing a child’s creativity and skills is a goal of every attentive parent. And toys are a perfect way to do that. Playtime doesn’t have to be wasted time. It can be a fertile ground of learning and discovery and an expansion of mental, emotional, and physical skills.
Toys that challenge kids will increase their mental capacity over time. This is known as “active learning.” It's what happens when children use toys that make them think through challenges, problems, and scenarios.
In children aged six to twelve years, the advantage of using toys as teaching tools is that they think they're just having fun. But we know that the game they're playing is teaching important life-long skills.
Here are some of the skills we believe kids can learn from marble runs:
1. Marble runs build self-esteem.
Between the ages of six and eight, kids are beginning to exhibit some independence. They want to do things on their own. They also begin to understand the feeling of a sense of accomplishment.
This is a great place where marble runs come into play. Not only are they building cognitive and motor skills, but they're also building self-esteem through the accomplishment of building and playing with the marble run.
2. Marble runs foster teamwork.
While we as parents love to encourage independent play, we also have the responsibility and privilege of helping our kids learn. Working together as a team, we can encourage and guide them to maximize learning opportunities that come from marble runs. This ensures that they get the most out of their toys – and the learning experience they bring.
3. Marble runs encourage goal-setting.
We can assist our kids with marble runs by helping them set goals, as well as identifying the steps to reach those goals. Building a marble run is a lesson in creativity and patience, and we're the ones who can break down the ultimate goal of a completed marble run into manageable steps for our kids.
4. Marble runs develop the ability to focus.
Let’s face it, children in the age bracket of six to eight years have trouble focusing. We can help improve that focus by encouraging manageable playtime goals. Giving them pictures of run designs that they could make would give them something to shoot for. Many children are visual learners, so this is the perfect way to help them.
The truth is that children have the ability to focus, but often their attempts are thwarted by their environment. Things like computers, phones, and tablets can offer distraction, but not necessarily learning experiences. Removing these, as well as clutter from other toys, from the play environment helps them focus on the task at hand.
5. Marble runs improve memory and recall.
One of the great advantages of marble run sets is their ability to improve children's memory and recall. If we show a picture of a marble run and encourage our kids to replicate that run, we're effectively exercising and expanding their ability to memorize and recall. This teaches them how to gather, store, and retrieve the data they need for specific tasks.
Kids in this age group have a greater memory capability because many routines (such as tying shoes, brushing teeth, and bathing) are automatic now. Once they figure out how to do basic marble run structures, you can give them more complex challenges. (To see different levels of design ideas, check out our Starter Set, Super Set, and Extreme Set, or download our app for interactive ideas and instructions.)
Your children are a precious gift. You love them deeply and want what's best for them. Creating a loving environment in which they feel secure is obviously most critical. However, finding ways to develop their mental and physical skills at home is important as well.
By using marble run toys in patient and creative ways, parents can help their children learn and exercise those abilities that will last a lifetime.