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How to choose the "right toys" in speech therapy for preschoolers and toddlers

Have you ever planned a speech therapy session with amazing toys only to have the child have zero interest? It used to happen to me all the time! It wasn't until I realized I wasn't choosing the "RIGHT" toys for that child.

So, what makes a toy the "right" toy for a child?

1) The child is developmentally ready for it. Would you give a six-month-old a board game to play? Of course not! We know board games aren't developmentally appropriate for infants. Somewhere in the 1-5-year-old range of childhood, adults often lose sight of what qualifies as an appropriate toy for a child. Just like all domains in childhood, there are milestones for play! Make sure the toys you are choosing are suitable for the child's developmental level of play.

2) The child is interested in it. Some kids simply don't like certain toys. If you have brought cars twice and the child isn't interested in them - even though they are developmentally ready for them - it's time to try something else. Having a list of toys available that are appropriate for a child's development level is helpful when planning your therapy sessions.

3) The toy does all the work. Insert toys with flashing lights and music here. Toys that are closed-ended (e.g. only one way to play with them) often don't engage children as much as open-ended. This isn't a novel idea, but ditch the batteries! Choose toys that can be used in a variety of different ways.

By choosing toys that meet these criteria, your toddlers and preschoolers will be engaged and learning for the entire therapy session!

I created a handout that provides ideas of toys for different development stages of play. You can use this to plan sessions, support parents, or brainstorm ideas for your toy cupboard. Grab it (and other amazing freebies) by signing up for the newsletter of the website!

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