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Educational toys aren’t very educational

In the January issue of Which? Magazine  it was reported that the magazine’s consumer experts believe that six hi-tech toys that market themselves as educational make claims that are overblown.

Although the manufacturers state on their websites that their products can ‘develop core skills in reading, spelling, maths, logic and creativity’ the experts found some of the claims to be vague and dressed up in pseudo-academic jargon which could potentially mislead parents. In fact, the experts thought that the toys didn’t contain enough high-quality text to have significant impact on a child’s reading.

Emma Plackett, Co-Founder at Reading Revival Ltd. believes that parents who are keen to play an proactive and positive role in their child’s development are being let down because they ultimately don’t see the results from the investment they spend in educational toys.

“These self-styled educational toys that claim to improve reading often do not teach reading in the most effective, efficient way,” she explains. “The toy should help the child to steadily build vocabulary with the most used English words, and add more words at a controlled rate whilst providing plenty of practise of words already learned. If the toy simply draws a child’s attention to random words that they may not often re-encounter, it can only claim to encourage an enjoyment of the reading activity rather than an actual proficiency.”

She also calls for a ‘plain English’ approach to make parent’s choices easier.

“Parents are being seduced by the extravagant promises of toy manufacturers and the language used in the marketing literature may be deliberately opaque,” she says. “Producers of educational aids for children have a responsibility to parents to describe the product and its benefits in such a way that a parent can make the best decision for their child.”