It’s no secret that children learn through play. Any toy or activity that encourages less screen time always gets my vote. However, in the same breath, I must also acknowledge and admit that Kayden learns a lot during screen time. I think it’s important to have balance and also to be mindful and selective of what he watches on his iPad and also the type of toys he plays with. I want to take a closer look at the Key Benefits of Playing with Train Sets, based on my observations with Kayden.
Playing with toys opposed to screen time, in my opinion, exercises his imagination – allows him to think and to apply his mind. When we received the Thomas & Friends Track Master – Diesel Tunnel Blast, Kayden had to wait for over a week or so to be able to open with and play with it as I was in bed battling to recover from COVID-19 with some lingering symptoms.
Once I was out of isolation and feeling well enough to unbox the set with him, he was elated! This child has so much of toys but I can’t explain how excited he was about this. I think the wait also added to the excitement.
By the way, Kayden has his own Instagram Profile: THE K DEN – Click here to check it out.
So I must be honest when I say that I was bored within the first few minutes. However, this 4 year old toddler of mine for whatever reason, didn’t and still isn’t bored with this set a few days later. It must be the exhilaration of watching this Engine, Diesel, blasting through a blocked tunnel. Who cares if I am bored, it’s not for me to play with – well, technically not. Kayden demands my attention – for me to sit on the floor and play with him – we had to have turns to send Diesel blasting through the tunnel – over and over and over and over again.
When I see the satisfied look on his face – it’s enough to make me not just entertain his request but to enjoy the time with him on the floor playing with this Engine, Diesel. Taking into consideration that we are on lockdown, besides him not having any social interaction with kids from school, he also doesn’t have any siblings so Dadda and I do our best to engage him during play. This train set is ideal for a child to develop some skills on their own and let me elaborate further:
Childhood Development – Key Benefits of playing with train sets:
I’ve consciously observed the following whilst playing with Kayden – you see, I sit on the floor and make myself useful in more than one way 😉
Fine Motor Skills
Putting the pieces of the track together allowed Kayden to use his fingers with varied amounts of force. The track pieces themselves required more force whilst the supporting pieces didn’t require as much force. At this age, it’s crucial for Kayden to develop his fine motor skills and the more practice he gets, the better prepared he will be to write, draw, do and undo buttons, etc.
Gross Motor Skills
This focuses on spacial awareness. Depending on where he put together the set, in our home office or lounge – both areas required different amounts of space. He had to physically move the set around, adjust it and himself. He was on his knees, crawling, leaning and crouching and doing all he had to do, to keep the track in tact.
The first time we assembled the track, it was with help from myself. Thereafter he had to do it on his own. He had to figure out why the incline wasn’t so steep anymore – he did this through trial and error and with some probing from my side to guide him to the answer. When he assembled the parts, he learned that that there was a certain way that it had to be done, to remain secure and not fall apart.
Why did the train blast through the tunnel? Why didn’t it blast through if there wasn’t a downhill? He is now learning about the impact of speed and we compared it to him riding his scooter on our driveway when Mum is always saying “be careful” when he goes speeding down the driveway toward the gate. His feet are then able to act as brakes and prevent him from blasting into the gate, however, our Engine, Diesel, doesn’t have brakes and goes blasting through the tunnel.
Creativity and Construction Skills
Although there is a picture on the box which indicates how it should be setup, Kayden took it upon himself to explore. He added other objects to keep the tracks up and he placed the tracks and bridges at different points to see what would happen.
Interestingly enough, he commented, “let’s see what happens when I do this” – this shows that his imagination is active and there are no boundaries that allow it to be limited to the picture on the box. I love that about him! Innovation at it’s best – the mind of a curious child.
So, whilst I initially thought that this toy is so “boring” – I saw the bigger picture not just in the joy depicted in his smile when playing with the set, but also the learning and development that is taking place through a simple set.
Note to self: Never underestimate the power of learning through play, even if it doesn’t seem appealing to us adults.
Does your child play with train sets and have you made any observations on how it’s impacted their development?