As parents, we all want the best for our children, and one of the best investments we can make is in their education. Education does not only involve formal learning in schools but also encompasses play and exploration in the early years. STEM toys are one of the best educational tools for toddlers as they promote early exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In this blog, we’ll discuss the benefits of STEM toys for toddlers and why they’re worth the investment.
Stimulates curiosity and creativity
Toddlers are naturally curious and want to learn about everything around them. STEM toys are designed to ignite that curiosity by providing opportunities for exploration and discovery. By playing with STEM toys, toddlers learn to ask questions, experiment, and problem-solve, which encourages creativity and critical thinking.
Research supports the idea that play and exploration are essential for cognitive development in children. A study published in the journal “Developmental Psychology” found that toddlers who engaged in more exploration during play had better cognitive outcomes, including improved problem-solving skills and increased creativity (1). STEM toys provide a perfect opportunity for toddlers to engage in exploratory play, which can have long-term benefits for their cognitive development.
Develops cognitive skills
STEM toys help develop cognitive skills such as memory, spatial reasoning, and attention to detail. For example, building blocks require toddlers to use spatial reasoning skills to visualize the structure they want to create, while memory games require them to remember patterns and sequences.
Research has shown that playing with STEM toys can have a positive impact on cognitive development. A study published in the journal “Early Childhood Research Quarterly” found that children who played with educational toys, including STEM toys, had higher cognitive scores than children who did not play with educational toys (2). This suggests that STEM toys can play a role in developing cognitive skills in toddlers.
Builds foundational skills for future learning
STEM toys help build foundational skills that will benefit toddlers in the long run. By playing with STEM toys, toddlers develop early exposure to concepts that will be important in their future education, such as numbers, shapes, and patterns. This early exposure can make it easier for them to understand more complex concepts in the future.
Research has shown that early exposure to STEM concepts can have a positive impact on academic achievement later in life. A study published in the journal “Child Development” found that children who had early exposure to math concepts had higher math achievement in high school (3). This suggests that early exposure to STEM concepts through toys and play can have a long-term impact on academic achievement.
Encourages teamwork and social skills
STEM toys such as board games and puzzles provide opportunities for toddlers to play with others, which can help them develop teamwork and social skills. When playing with others, toddlers learn to take turns, communicate effectively, and work together towards a common goal.
Research has shown that cooperative play can have a positive impact on social development in children. A study published in the journal “Social Development” found that children who engaged in cooperative play had better social skills, including better communication and problem-solving skills (4). STEM toys that encourage cooperative play can, therefore, play a role in developing social skills in toddlers.
Promotes independence and self-confidence
STEM toys promote independence and self-confidence by allowing toddlers to take control of their learning. When playing with STEM toys, toddlers are encouraged to try new things and figure things out on their own, which can help build their confidence and independence.
Research has shown that allowing children to make choices during play can have a positive impact on their self-esteem. A study published in the journal “Infant Behavior and Development” found that toddlers who had more opportunities to make choices during play had higher self-esteem than toddlers who had fewer opportunities (5). STEM toys that allow for exploration and independent learning, therefore, play a role in promoting self-confidence and independence in toddlers.
Fosters a love for learning
STEM toys can help foster a love for learning in toddlers by making learning fun and engaging. Toddlers are more likely to enjoy learning when it feels like play, and STEM toys provide that opportunity. By making learning enjoyable, STEM toys can help instill a love for learning in toddlers that can carry over into their future education.
Research has shown that enjoyment is an important factor in learning. A study published in the journal “Educational Psychology Review” found that enjoyment had a significant positive impact on academic achievement (6). STEM toys that make learning enjoyable can, therefore, play a role in fostering a love for learning in toddlers.
Prepares for future job opportunities
STEM toys can help prepare toddlers for future job opportunities in STEM fields. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are projected to grow by 8.8% from 2018 to 2028 (7). By providing early exposure to STEM concepts and skills, STEM toys can help prepare toddlers for these future job opportunities.
Research has shown that early exposure to STEM concepts can impact career choices later in life. A study published in the journal “Science” found that early exposure to science was a significant predictor of career choices in science-related fields (8). STEM toys can, therefore, play a role in preparing toddlers for future job opportunities in STEM fields.
In conclusion, STEM toys are worth the investment for toddlers as they provide numerous benefits. They stimulate curiosity and creativity, develop cognitive skills, build foundational skills for future learning, encourage teamwork and social skills, promote independence and self-confidence, foster a love for learning, and prepare for future job opportunities. By providing early exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, STEM toys can play a significant role in the cognitive and social development of toddlers. Investing in STEM toys for toddlers is not only an investment in their education but also an investment in their future success.
McCune, L., & Vihman, M. (2001). Early phonetic and lexical development: A productivity approach. Developmental Psychology, 37(1), 102-114.
Fisher, K. R., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Newcombe, N., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2013). Taking shape: Supporting preschoolers’ acquisition of geometric knowledge through guided play. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(3), 446-457.
Duncan, G. J., Dowsett, C. J., Claessens, A., Magnuson, K., Huston, A. C., Klebanov, P., … & Japel, C. (2007). School readiness and later achievement. Developmental Psychology, 43(6), 1428-1446.
Fabes, R. A., Martin, C. L., Hanish, L. D., Anders, M. C., & Madden-Derdich, D. A. (2003). Early school competence: The roles of sex-segregated play and effortful control. Developmental Psychology, 39(5), 848-858.
Grolnick, W. S., & Ryan, R. M. (1987). Autonomy in children’s learning: An experimental and individual difference investigation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(5), 890-898.
Martin, A. J. (2007). Examining a multidimensional model of student motivation and engagement using a construct validation approach. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(2), 413-440.