We all want the best for our children — we want them to be kind, curious, engaged citizens with a passion for life that will help them find a path to happiness. Often, one of the things at the top of our list is intelligence — why else would we lose so many hours of sleep worrying about sending them to the best schools and starting those college funds before they’re even born? Intellectual development and ensuring your child can be a successful critical thinker and problem solver is a top concern for many parents.
If you or a parent in your life is looking for ways to promote your son’s intellectual development, here are some of the best toddler boy gifts to get them.
The Value of Books
There’s no better gift you can get a child than a book. It will provide hours of special memories for a parent and their child, as they read the book together. It can become a treasured heirloom that they’ll cherish down the decades and share with their own families.
But more than that, it can be a source of pleasure and entertainment, while also being a crucial intellectual development tool. Studies have shown that children who are exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to do well in every aspect of education. This is because reading not only helps develop basic speech skills and imparts a mastery of language, it also helps hone logical thinking, communication skills, and concentration.
When you read to toddlers, they become much more likely to acquire the skills that enable them to express themselves in a healthy way — they can gain valuable insight from the interaction with those who read to them and witnessing the relationships between characters. This is especially crucial for little boys, as men are often conditioned not to express emotion or to restrain their feelings — reading can help teach them to express themselves in a healthy way.
Reading can also children apply logic to abstract scenarios (and begin to grasp how to implement those tools in their own life) and to recognize cause and effect. These skills will help them become excellent readers, but also effective problem solvers in many walks of life.
Reading also helps cultivate focus and concentration, which promotes a longer attention span, self-discipline, and memory retention. Additionally, these skills and merely sharing the joys of learning will instill a love of reading in your child from a young age — this could help you in future battles over video games, television, tablets, and phones. If your child already wants to choose books over computer games, you’ll be ahead of the game. Finally, reading to your child helps them recognize their own lives and emotions in storytelling, which helps them feel normal and relate to others well.
Use Your Imagination
One of the best toddler boy’s gifts are toys that will promote their imagination — stock up their toy chest to help their fantasies soar to new heights. This means you can never have too many dress-up items (whether it’s a cloak to be a knight in shining armor or a fireman’s hat and jacket) or too many stuffed animals, action figures, and so on. These toys will make the sky the limit when it comes to your child’s sense of play and their imagination.
Developing your imagination is not only key for promoting a strong sense of self and divining hopes, dreams, and motivation, but it’s also a safe space for children to explore their emotions and feelings within a controlled environment. If you see your child re-enacting home scenarios (whether it’s playing school with their stuffed animals, cooking dinner in a mini-kitchen, or putting their action figures in time-out), this is their way of making sense of their own lives and testing their emotions and frustrations in a consequence free environment. It can also be a space for wish fulfillment where they enact scenarios that follow their desired outcome. If you want to promote intellectual development, keeping a well-stocked toy box is crucial in helping your child understand and explore their emotions.
If you want to go beyond a stuffed toy or action figure, go for blocks, stacking cups, or a bouncy ball. Their simplicity makes them versatile toys that can assist with cognitive reasoning on multiple levels. Blocks can help a child understand concepts like gravity, as well as assisting them in learning how to recognize patterns and grasp concepts of space and organization.
Stacking and laying out blocks of different shapes and sizes help children learn to recognize patterns, which is the first crucial step in building math skills. Building structures with blocks helps toddlers understand how to organize and enclose space, as well as how to problem solve to create a sturdy structure. Failure to do so will help them understand the precept of gravity in its most basic form.
A bouncy ball is fabulous for improving motor skills and promoting scientific reasoning. Following a ball with your eyes or crawling across the floor after it helps you gain spatial awareness. Playing catch or even rolling a ball back and forth develops basic motor skills and hand-eye coordination. As play becomes more complicated, such as throwing two different size balls, children will perceive differences and ask questions that are the building blocks of scientific inquiry and exploration.
Lastly, something as simple as stacking cups, which has been commodified into a game called Speed Stacks, can help promote motor skills and memory retention. Playing with cups, whether it’s stacking them or filling them with something, helps toddlers learn about volume in an organic way. Having to remember how things stack or how much they’ll hold promotes memory skills.
No matter what you go with, playing with and engaging with your child is the most crucial part of intellectual development. Be there for them, as a parent and playmate, and they’ll be well on their way.