When children get to the age of six, they usually start the first grade. According to play therapist and our expert Dr. Joseph Sachs, this is the time when kids are experiencing the huge challenge, which is the transition from a play-based environment they have had during their preschool years to the work-based environment. And they really need to learn how to control themselves. Therefore, very often they come across the problem of self-determination. All of a sudden, they feel like they are being forced to do things like sitting or working the whole day long, instead of running around and playing. To help children during this stage Dr. Sachs applies the play therapy. As he says, he does not tell kids what to do when they enter his playroom. He follows them when they make their own decisions. Sachs states that he gives children much of respect, honor and celebration about any decisions they make in his playroom. And such an approach gives kids an exciting sense of control over their life.
We talked to Dr. Sachs and Dr. Roberta Golinkoff, who is also our permanent expert and consultant, about their recommendations concerning which toys are the best to suit the children’s needs during this important life moment.
Also, check out our gift suggestions for kids of different age groups, including 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds, 10-year-olds, and 11-year-olds.
Just in case you are searching for holidays toys, we have talked to specialists to indicate the 2018’s best items for you. So, take a look at the top kid’s toys to buy before they sell out. In addition, here you can find all of the Strategist’s holiday gift offers.
Best books for 6-year-olds
This is also the age when kids learn how to read. When they start mastering this skill their world expands, and, at the same time reshapes itself almost totally. At this period children are recognizing and interacting with things that were hidden before, as well as questioning the surrounding world all over again. As Dr. Golinkoff says, even if children cannot read yet they comprehend what reading is and attempt reading. Once your kids start to read they can perceive the world in new different ways like they couldn’t perceive before, and that is another functioning level. When you are reading and discussing story books with your children, you should ask them questions which will stimulate them to make logical conclusions like “why do you think he did that?” or “how does that make the character feel?” And definitely, you should continue reading at the higher level than your kids are at. In this case, they will keep picking up new stuff and keep learning to enjoy reading and enjoy books in general. We recommend Charlotte’s Web, the classic that both children and their parents will enjoy and have fun reading together.
As Dr. Sachs says, there is a secret to getting children to read. Wanting their children to read, many parents force their kids and pressure them to read. And obviously, it’s a big common mistake to do so. When children feel pressure, this feeling is very unpleasant to them. Moreover, it creates the association and teaches kids that reading is an unpleasant process, so, they will never want to read. Instead of that, you, as a parent, should start reading to your child at a very young age. Let them look at the illustrations over your shoulders and enjoy this experience. The attention and pleasure parents give to their kids while reading books will definitely form a positive association to the reading as a process. And eventually, they will love reading and start grabbing and reading books on their own before you even know it. Check out this twist on a fairy-tale fable about three little pigs, that has already become a classic.
We recommend this book, which tells a story about Lexie. She is a cowgirl who has a talent for wrangling words and their meanings. It is a perfect choice for the beginning readers as they join the main character in her search for meddler, who constantly rearranges all the letters and causes a mess.
Our next suggestion is A Different Pond, 2018 Caldecott Honor Book. This is a graphic novel tells a story of a father and his son, who are gone fishing to Minneapolis. This adventure brings up father’s memories about past fishing expeditions, which he had with his brother in Vietnam.
Malala’s Magic Pencil is the first picture book written by Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner. It is an autobiographic story about her childhood in Pakistan. This book is a great thing to read with your 6-year-old kid. You and your child can also discuss how different other children’s lives can be in other parts of the world.
The age of six, when children are becoming observant and curious about how things work in the world around them, is a great time to get kids interested in science. But you definitely wouldn’t want to force them with phrases like “You have to do this project” or something like that. It is great and fun if the parents are willing to do it, but it has to be fun. That is the best way for a kid to get the most benefits of it. It is all about encouraging kids and getting them interested, as well as playful learning and having fun.
Best toys for 6-year-olds
While practicing his play therapy, Dr. Sachs makes emphasis on the individual child. As he says, child-centered play therapy is about allowing the child to be a boss and developing his own emotions, as well as empowering the kid. Dr. Sachs states, that he never judges, evaluates, or criticizes a child. And he does not praise him either. He allows the kid to make his own conclusions and assumptions about himself. Such an approach inspires what we call a self-esteem. He has a tip for those parents who want to implement some of his practices at home: you should play with your child where you allow him to completely control the action. Let him do whatever he wants to for let’s say 30 minutes a day, but if you allow this to him you should really let him do this. Let your kid be a boss for a while and follow him no matter what he says. Such an experience will be extremely exhilarating for your child. Dr. Sachs recommends this magnetic cube. This toy is made up of 216 smaller magnetic pieces. Your kid can make the variety of different shapes and figures using these little cubes for hours. And it’s really amazing
When you are selecting toys, Dr. Sachs accents on the importance of choosing the toys that do not require any assembling or preparation, and at the same time are easy to manipulate. The toys should not be frustrating for kids at this age level. And if you are looking for something new and simple at the same time, Sachs recommends Spinsation. It is a wand made of iridescent ribbons. When manipulated, these ribbons create an illusion of a bubble. And kids just love it.
According to Dr. Sachs, in his practice, he only uses simple toys that completely capture the kid’s heart. This putty toy, the Flarp, is his recommendation for kids, and “they will spend 45 minutes playing with it”, he says. This toy doesn’t only last for a long time staying clean, but it also makes a funny fart sound when it is put back in the jar. Moreover, the Flarp is very attractive due to its tactile sensations. It’s cool, slimy, and your children can make whatever they want out of it. And, by the way, kids just love fart sounds.
The Splat Ball is another toy, which is really good for stimulation of kids’ tactile sensations and engagement of their senses. It is available in various shapes, including tomatoes and animals like frogs or pigs. You can throw the Splat Balls against the wall and they will stick for a short period of time before sliding down. Dr. Sachs states that throwing something at the wall without bouncing off is extremely enjoyable for children. On the other hand, it is a perfect thing for stress and fidgeting relief.
Dr. Sachs suggests the other simple tool that will definitely keep your child occupied for a while. Even though it is not really a toy, children like it a lot. We are talking about this grabber. Children can apply it for grabbing their stuff and arranging it around them.
As our other expert, Dr. Golinkoff, says, not every toy you purchase has to be necessarily a learning toy. As long as parents tell children that they will be are going around gathering up all the pieces of broken balloons, this is fun. However, kids do not necessarily need a parent to fill up the balloons for them; they can just play among themselves.
According to Golinkoff, at this age and a bit earlier kids usually start collecting things around. As she says, her personal bias would be collecting different objects from nature, like leaves, stones, or seashells. Parents can get these nice looking boxes for their kids. These jewel-tones containers would perfectly fit and look nice on the shelves in your kid’s bedroom.
Kids also like to collect stuffed animals or other little dolls. Golinkoff says, they can play school with them or have them go on a trip, in other words, use their imagination. Even though these kinds of things may seem ordinary and simple to adults, they are very beneficial for children’s imagination. And of course, while playing these games you definitely wouldn’t want to be a director. Let the child be a leader and follow him. That is the way in which kids learn about different roles and what different people do in this world. Allow your kid to be a tour guide, for example, when takes her dolls on a trip through the city.
As Golinkoff says, the remote-controlled robots are very popular nowadays. Since children do not have control of these types of vehicles or other machines in their everyday life, these toys are real fun for them. Kids can use these robots in their imaginary scenarios for games about cops chasing robbers, or some rescue operations. If the child has a strong imagination, he will be more creative in school and in everyday life. And that’s just great, isn’t it? From the first glimpse, it may look complicated to assemble, but parents can help them put it together.
Dr. Golinkoff recommends checking out this interactive game, which stimulates children’s senses. It is challenging, fun, and physically active. It is very similar to a game invented by colonials. You have a ball attached to a cup by string, and you need to catch this ball in a cup. It is amazing that these kinds of games are being reinvented again.
Dr. Golinkoff believes that paper, paints, colored pencils, clay and other kinds of arts and crafts are perfect for 6-year-old kids. They love to create and we should support and encourage that in all possible ways. For example, there are kits where you can make bracelets, boys like them too. Children love this.
And do not underestimate the fun you can get from cooking together with your child. Baking a pie or making cookies can be real fun and amusement, says Golinkoff. While cooking, your kids are practicing verbal skills when you talk to them, there is some math practice when they help you measure, and they get science asking different questions like “what is happening when we knead the dough?”, How does the cake go up?”, etc. Go ahead and involve your children in all kinds of everyday activities.
Instead of relinquishing your iPhone to your kids, get them their very own video camera. “Now you can think about getting a little movie camera and talking about what kinds of things would be fun to film,” Golinkoff says.