As you probably know from reading other articles around parenting blogs, playtime is an important piece of your child’s development. While focused education and learning is also a good pursuit, often playtime can teach your child just as much about the world as anything else.
One classic toy that will help your child develop some necessary life skills is a kids train set. This toy will not only keep your child busy and entertained for hours, but it will also teach her valuable skills without explicit teaching of specific skills.
Simply by playing with your child and their train set, you can set your child up for future success and proper development. So, what are you waiting for? Let us look at some concrete ways a toy train can aid in your child’s development.
The Learning Benefits Of Toy Trains
They Teach Sequencing Skills
Sequencing skills are vital to your child’s language development, as covered in the article called “The Importance of Sequencing Skills in a Child’s Development.” This same article also suggest teaching sequencing through storytelling – an easy task with a fun train set in hand!
Not only does sentence structure and form require sequencing skills, but the actual sounds and syllables in a word need to be sequenced. Train sets can help your child learn to sequence without your direct teaching.
So, how does a train set teach kids sequencing skills? Well, one of the ways is through the building of a train track. When your child puts together the train tracks, they have to sequencing it in certain ways to get where they want to go and to build it adequately.
Also, some train sets come with letters or numbers painted on the train cars. When you are playing with your child, try to encourage them to sequence the numbers and letters correctly.
Or, at least sequence with the engine at the front and the caboose in the rear.
The wooden train sets found in this article called “32 Train Sets for Kids” offer a great chance for sequencing education. Because there are many turns and bridges in these sets, the pieces of the train track have to be sequenced in a certain way.
They Facilitate Problem Solving Skills
Problem solving is a crucial step in your child’s development and it starts fairly early. When your child is building train tracks, they will have to use these developing skills to get where they want to go with their tracks.
The train cars themselves also often have to be attached in a certain order based on how they hook into a line. A young child will learn problem solving skill by trial and error while attaching the train cars. Sometimes the cars even work better in some configurations than others.
Part of learning to problem solve is relating point A to point B and knowing how to relate them yourself. Train sets are a perfect microcosm of this development. From the setting up of the tracks to the actual train cars themselves, your child has to relate the various pieces to each other.
You as a parent can also increase the need for problem solving by adding other components to the train set. For instance, set up a toy forest and encourage your child to find a way around it by using their train tracks. Maybe the best way is even with a bridge!
If you go with a train table, the clean-up process can also help your child with problem solving development. Many train tables have built in drawers for storage. Having your child sort the pieces away into their designated drawers helps them learn to organize, categorize and problem solve.
They Foster Pretend Play
Not only is pretend play a big part of childhood in general, but it also helps with your child’s development. Did you know that during early childhood (0-3 years) guided play is best? Train sets are very conducive to this.
Guided play essentially entails a parent or caregiver actively playing with the child rather than leaving them to their own pursuits with their toys. A train set can help guide you as you play with your child. This also allows you to help with the other two skills already mentioned.
While play to a certain extent is natural for kids, guided play gives them a framework for future success. Pretend play in itself is beneficial, especially in regards to language development.
Children learn about sequencing and vocabulary while playing and developing other skills.
As your child grows, a train table also offers a great platform for play with friends. Playing with peers offers social skill development as well. Your child will also gain the skills of a more robust vocabulary while playing with others around a train table.
Though a train table has a certain set of items included, the type of play your child will be exercising is fairly open-ended. This allows them to use their developing imagination and grow their skills organically as they play and learn from each other and their own imaginative games.
While there are certainly other methods of teaching your child the skills of sequencing, problem solving, and pretend play, a train set offers a great platform for all three. Your child will gain many lifelong skills while playing and having fun with their train set.
According to Psychology Today, in an article titled “The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development,” pretend play is just as important for child development as focused education. A train set and table can be a valuable piece of equipment to facilitate this early development.
Toy train sets can be especially helpful with language skill building in particular. Sequencing will help your child learn about word and sentence structure indirectly and pretend play can enhance their vocabularies directly, both from guided play and play with other children.
Though there are many toys available on the market, choosing toys that help with your child’s development is one of the best choices. There are so many high tech toys aimed at development available, but toy train sets for kids will help children gain crucial skills in a much more natural way.
Maria is a mom of 3, and her love for educational and “non-screentime” toys has led her to an interest in toy trains, and model trains for her older kids. The kids love it, Mom loves it, and it’s a productive and teaching hobby – win-win-win! You can read more about toy and model trains at Maria’s site: toytraincenter.com