The importance of toys in an early learning academy is clearly shown by Wittmer & Peterson (2018) upon review of such learning concepts as object permanence, cause and effect, use of tools, use of space, language and literacy, and numbers. The qualities needed in toys are primarily and most importantly the safety parameters such as materials used to make the them and the inspection guidelines in the United States which warrants that they can be used by infants and toddlers. The safety protocols are the first qualities to focus on in choosing toys. Dean & Gillespie (2015) in their article on teaching infants and toddlers showed factors needed for great learning, yet these predictors can also be used when choosing toys which need to “…expand children’s understanding of concepts by offering new information, extending learning opportunities in age-appropriate ways, and observing children’s existing knowledge base and developmental age and stage” (p.94).
An early learning academy needs toys that meet developmental milestones of children, as well as accommodate the zone of proximal development. “The ZDP is the set of information or skills that is beyond what the child knows but within what the child could learn and understand…” (Wittmer & Peterson, 2018, p.192). Avoiding toys which can hurt or hinder the child’s learning, as well as toys that may not be developmentally appropriate is important when choosing it for infants and toddlers.
Wittmer, D.S., & Peterson, S.H. (2018). Infant and toddler development and responsive program planning: A relationship-based approach (4th Ed). Pearson, NY.