How often do parents see what they think is the perfect game or toy for their gifted child only to find that the child is less than enthusiastic? Or maybe the child is excited about the new toy, but the excitement fades after a few hours of play. Buying toys for gifted kids can be tricky. Learning to apply the appropriate criteria will allow parents to buy smart toys for their smart kids!
ChallengeToys for gifted children should provide some degree of challenge, but not so much that it is frustrating to work with. The challenge should also be intentional and not the result of poor design. Toys that are difficult to put together or fall apart easily are simply frustrating. Gifted children enjoy using their minds. They like to figure things out. Games and toys that allow them to exercise their minds are good choices. Puzzles and games like the "Set" card game are examples of good games.
CreativityAnother consideration when buying a toy for a gifted child is whether it allows a child to be creative. The mental stimulation comes not from figuring out a winning strategy or working out a puzzle, but from imginative play. Blocks and other construction toys are excellent ways for kids to use their imaginations. Sometimes games will provide not just intellectual challenge but also opportunities for children to be creative. Various art supplies will also provide opportunities for creative play.
Child's InterestsIf your child is school age, look for toys that feed his or her interests. For example, if your child loves language, look for language-based games and toys like Mad Gab. However, if your child is a toddler or preschooler, consider toys that would appeal to various interests, including art and music. Young children need exposure to all the world has to offer. Otherwise, dormant talents may remain dormant. Older children need variety too, but may already have interests that should be nurtured.
GenderMany toys are marketed for either boys or girls. Dolls and dollhouses, for instance, are marketed for girls, while trucks and cars are marketed for boys. However, the primary considerations for gifted boys and girls should not be which gender a toy is marketed for, but whether it is challenging, allows for creativity, and will nurture a child's interest. Gifted girls often love science while gifted boys may love art.
AgeParents of gifted children, like most parents, will look at the recommended ages for a particular toy or game. However, since gifted children are intellectually advanced, they are usually able to play with and enjoy games for older children. They will often get quickly bored with toys meant for younger children. The only criteria parents should worry about are whether the game has appropriate subject matter (i.e. not sexually oriented) and whether a toy for a toddler presents a choking hazard.