Say what you will about the terrible twos, but it's an age that fascinates me. I love hearing my newly minted 2-year-old express her thoughts and try to do "big kid" things. Since her mind seems like a total sponge right now, I figured it was the perfect time to introduce some new toys into our playroom. But when it comes to educational toys for 2-year-olds, you need to be discerning.
Like most millennial moms, I feel pressure to constantly expose my children to learning opportunities, so when I see a toy that promises "educational" or "brain boosting" activities, I must admit, it's more likely to make its way into my cart. But here's the kicker — there are no legal requirements for using the 'educational' label, according to Diane Levin, Ph.D., clinical professor of human development and early education at Boston University’s Wheelock College, speaking with Romper. Toy makers might not have any proof that the toy actually promotes learning.
That's why Dr. Levin suggests using a different set of criteria for selecting toys for your toddler: "[Look for] toys that will be used differently by every child, that build on what they’ve already done in the world and what they already know; that don’t have to be used in one particular way. That can grow and change as the child grows and changes."
The seven toys below have all been recommended by child development specialists, and promise real educational opportunities. And while the toys here might not seem as modern or high-tech as that latest interactive toy you saw in a recent commercial, they are what actually deserve the educational label. "Screen-based toys and games deprive children of opportunities for physical, sensory, personal, and creative exploration," Susan Linn, Ed.D., Lecturer in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Research Associate, Boston Children's Hospital, tells Romper. And while there are on-screen apps and programs that can educate your child, nothing beats playing and engaging with toys IRL.