In recent years, we have witnessed the usage of electronic devices among young kids skyrocket. Parents have turned to digital apps and games to keep their kids entertained and engaged. Most of these apps mask themselves as educational programs, but at the end of the day, it builds bad habits that lean more toward addiction than education. Will toys in 2020 be any different?
This 2019, while the technological advancements forced the shift in playing patterns in children, the real educational toys are not to be counted out. These toys, too, have seen a resurgence to the delight of parents and educators who firmly believe that authentic learning toys will help foster early childhood development. Fortunately, this positive toy trend will carry on next year, which is something to look forward to for parents and kids alike.
What are the trends for new toys in 2020 to watch out for?
1. Back to the basic games
Parents will be happy knowing that the classic games they used to play and enjoy are coming back with a bang! Wooden toys are making themselves known in the toy industry once again. Although wooden toys like Montessori toys didn’t really go away, the digital games still overshadowed them. Thankfully, there is more information about the benefits of wooden learning toys nowadays, which has helped parents become more aware and knowledgeable about the authentic learning toys they should be buying for their kids.
There are so many advantages of letting kids play with wooden toys. Aside from its sustainable material, kids play with the materials hands-on. They won’t be tapping the screen anymore, but instead, they’ll be manipulating materials and solving problems on their own using their practical reasoning skills. These learning toys provide the right challenge for infants, toddlers, and young children, which also teaches them patience and independence.
Apart from the classic wooden toys, the classic board games are also making a comeback. Back in the days, kids loved playing with board games like Clue, Monopoly, and Scrabble. These games were far from flashy or hi-tech, but they kept children glued for hours. Not to mention, these classic board games were good exercises for the brain and were best played with other kids or adults (no solo-playing like in online games).
2. Manipulative toys
Nothing beats learning through experience. When playing with smartphones and tablets, kids don’t get to experience anything as they’re simply tapping on the screens. What can they learn from that? This is why one of the best toys in 2020 are manipulative toys or materials that children can manipulate with their hands.
These toys are called creative compounds, and some of the best examples are dough, clay, sand, and putty. Kids can get creative with these materials as they find solutions for problems they encounter. Play-Doh sets have been around for a while, and these toys really help kids use their imagination and creativity. They can create cakes, ice cream, sushi, and many more. Kids usually start with a guide, copying what the box or manual shows. After that, it’s all free play from there.
Perhaps, it’s time to let kids get their hands dirty. There’s something special when kids pull and shape compounds on their own, even if it means staining their clothes once in a while. It’s a learning experience that is unparalleled to what digital apps can ever offer.
3. Toys that mimic real life
Children are naturally curious. When they see mom cooking, they wonder how raw food can turn into a delicious meal. They also wonder how dad fixes broken parts of the house using his toolbox. Even doing the laundry is something they’re interested in. While young kids aren’t really interested in doing household chores yet, they will still find it interesting to do pretend-play as if they’re responsible adults.
One of the core concepts of Montessori materials is to teach children about practical life. Not only will they learn how to do such activities, but it will also build their confidence. Toys like a kitchen set will keep children engaged for hours. They can pretend that they’re cooking and preparing food for guests. Wooden cutting fruits and vegetables complement kitchen sets beautifully. Food-related toys are a hot trend now, so it’s really good to take advantage of this.
Further, toys like workbenches with power tools are also great. This type of play teaches young kids that they can use their hands to fix or make something. It gives them a boost of confidence, knowing that even at a young age, they can try to solve or fix problems on their own. As you can see, it is never too early to teach toddlers about home economics.
4. Role-play toys
Toys that inspire kids and encourage them to aspire is one of the educational toy trends that will carry on until next year, and rightfully so. These toys not only motivate kids to dream, but these toys actually let them live the dream and teach them that they can be whoever they want to be. Role-play or pretend toys are highly educational, both mentally and emotionally.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) toys have led the charge in the past year. These toys are geared towards children who want to explore their interests in these fields. Children can now learn how to code, build their own robots, program toys, and what-not.
STEM toys are deemed to prepare children for their future careers, but this doesn’t mean that kids who are not interested in the sciences will not enjoy STEM toys. These toys nurture creativity and imagination and will motivate kids to learn more, be not afraid of failure, and teach them to dream big.
5. The unboxing experience
YouTube features a plethora of unboxing videos. If you think that’s just for the views, think again. The unboxing experience is now a toy trend, and you can expect more fun and genius packaging concepts in the toys fair 2020.
The unboxing concept is pretty much the same as opening a beautifully wrapped present. There’s so much excitement. Toy manufacturers are now capitalizing on this trend. It’s no longer just ripping boxes open. Today, it’s all about making that complete experience for young children. Additionally, toys that have surprise items inside add to the excitement and suspense.
The Movement from tech to touch
It is not too late to make the shift back to traditional hands-on toys. In fact, the toys 2020 trends are a reflection of how important these learning toys are. While digital apps and games offer convenience, parents must start thinking about the real effects of these games and how a child’s ability to learn is sacrificed in the process.
According to a study by the AAP, "Toys have evolved over the years, and advertisements may leave parents with the impression that toys with a 'virtual' or digital-based platform are more educational." The truth is, the best toys are the simple ones. They’re always better than the flashy or expensive ones, which kids easily get tired or bored with anyway.
The real educational toys are those that match the developmental ability of a child. This will promote various skill development, language interaction, problem-solving, critical thinking, social interaction, among others. Simple toys teach one concept; not bombarding the child with so many things that the child’s brain becomes overstimulated. There’s no true learning that happens with overstimulation, which is exactly what digital games provide.
"The best toys are those that support parents and children playing, pretending and interacting together," said Alan Mendelsohn, co-author of the AAP report. He continued, “You just don't reap the same rewards from a tablet or screen. And when children play with parents - the real magic happens, whether they are pretending with toy characters or building blocks or puzzles together."
Kids playing in tablets and other devices do not offer this type of play where parents and kids interact and engage with one another. This interaction is irreplaceable, and not many parents realize how important this bonding time is for their kids. Simply put, no digital app can help build relationships. It will never replace human interaction. Parents have to play with their children, and children need to work on real-life challenges.
The future of the toy industry is bright
Every child is different. His/her developmental needs vary. There are good and not-so-good toy trends, but what matters is that parents should be more proactive in choosing the toys they buy for their kids. This year and in 2020, the comeback of traditional hands-on toys is a good sign that the toy industry is giving consumers more options, which, in turn, also means that consumers are now more supportive of educational toys as well.
The toys 2020 trends indeed look promising. There’s a bright future ahead for educational toys for kids. There are so many learning opportunities for young kids nowadays, and regardless of toy trends, it will be wise to grab on to those opportunities and provide the best toys your children can play with.