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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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Watch Kids Play. Watch Kids Grow

From marking their height on a kitchen doorway to boxing up the clothes they’ve outgrown, there are many ways to clearly see the physical growth in our kids. However, the way children use their minds requires growth that is less obvious, yet just as important — if not more so — than physical development.

    There are three main skill sets everyone uses to function every day, and these skills all start developing at a very young age. The first is fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills require the use of our small muscles, like fingers and toes, where as our gross motor skills requires the use of the larger muscles in our arms, legs and core.
    The other two skill sets are mind-centric and are displayed through thought and decision-making. The first of these mind-centric skills is the ability to communicate with those around us, including social, emotional, and language. The second involves the ability to solve problems and learn. These two skill sets require tremendous brain growth — growth that you don’t “see” but that must be nurtured and encouraged every bit as much as physical growth.
    The best way to help children’s brain growth is through play! While it may look like your child is “just playing,” their brains are being actively engaged and growing at a remarkable pace. They’re having a good time and don’t even know they’re learning.
We can encourage and maximize this brain growth by thinking about the types of toys, books, and games that they have access to, just like we encourage their physical growth by feeding them nutritious food and allowing them space to walk and run.
    Toys, games, and crafts help enhance communication development in many different ways. For example, when kids are playing a board game, their social skills are honed by interacting with the other kids or adults playing with them. They get practice using their emotional skills by dealing with victory and defeat, happiness and sadness, and a host of other emotions. They practice their language skills by speaking to each other throughout the course of the game.
    Problem solving and “learning to learn” includes spatial reasoning, cognitive abilities, and creativity. Spatial reasoning is the relationship between objects. For example, being able to see what spot a certain puzzle piece belongs in or discovering that a block tower is sturdier when big blocks are on the bottom, or that a train track configuration needs more or less track, curved pieces or straight. Cognitive abilities refer to thinking skills and understanding how the world works, including sorting, sequencing, counting, memorization, and problem-solving; for example, lining up cars, making a pattern on a pegboard, or playing a round of Memory.
    Stimulating a child’s creativity can happen with just about anything. From creating a world for their dolls or stuffed animals, to inventing games with a ball, to mapping out their town with markers and crayons, the opportunities for kids to be creative are limitless. The key is that they need to be given the opportunity for this creative development to take place — and it can get messy!   
    The most important and effective ways for children to learn and grow is to spend time playing. The developmental benefits of toys and game are no accident. Manufacturers of quality toys know that in addition to providing children a good time, they’re also responsible for helping them grow into highly functioning adults. The basic toys, such as blocks, that can be played with in many different ways at many different ages provide multiple play opportunities for children and also optimize the learning that takes place. So, it’s important to know which toys to look for that will provide the kids in our life plenty of opportunities to develop and grow — all while having fun and “just playing.”

    To learn more about how toys, games, books, and crafts can help children develop and grow, visit the Gingerbread House toy store at 603 S. Hannah Street in Bloomington, call 309-827-8811 or visit them online at gingerbreadhousetoys.com. The friendly and experienced staff can answer any questions you have and will make sure you pick out fun items to nurture the kids in your life.



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