How Choosing Appropriate Toys can Help Children’s Intellectual Development

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Parents should have an awareness about the stages of children’s intellectual development. There is a saying that knowledge is power and my belief is that a little bit of psychological knowledge could greatly help parents to assist children as they progress through the intellectual developmental stages. 

My name is Morel Benard, I have many years experience teaching the subject of Developmental Psychology and other aspects of psychology and I would now like to help parents and carers become more knowledgeable about child development. I have a BSc Honours in Psychology, teaching qualifications and post-graduate qualifications. I currently provide Academic Online Support to University and College students. My organisation is Study Coach and I am based in the UK. 



Mom, Dad, Carers, please note that in order to help children develop thinking skills it is important to introduce children to as many schemas as possible. A Schema is the representation in the mind of a set of ideas.

For example if parents introduce children to the idea of animals; children will develop a set of perceptions about different animals and start to know the difference between household pets and animals living in the wild. Toys categorising species of animals will help to build Schemas.

In the previous blog on Child Development How to Help your Baby to Grow


I pointed out that there are 4 broad developmental stages, namely: 


In this current blog we will focus on children’s intellectual development and will refer in details to Jean Piaget’s child development theory. My aim is to help you recognise how your child is progressing intellectually and to highlight how you can choose appropriate age toys to stimulate your child’s intellectual development.   



Piaget gives us stages of intellectual development. The first stage is known as Sensorimotor stage, the focus of the Sensorimotor stage is on motor skills (gross and fine motor skills). Motor skills were considered in the Study Coach blog on ‘How to help your baby to Grow’.



Piaget’s 2nd stage is called the Pre-Operational stage and centres around the toddler and young child developing cognitive skills as they pass through early childhood. The approximate age for Pre-Operational (toddlers and early childhood) is 2 – 7 years. There is quite a difference between the mental ability of a 2 year old and a 7 year old; the Pre-operational stage is therefore broken down into 2 substages.  



At the first sub-stage (pre-conceptual age 2 – 4 years) intelligence is demonstrated through the use of symbols, as the toddler develops, his/her language skills are expected to mature and memory and imagination should also develop, however thinking is done in a non-logical manner, so don’t expect your child to express self in a logical manner (they simply don’t have the skills at this early stage).



At the Pre-Operational first sub-stage Egocentric thinking predominates. An example of egocentric thinking is as follows: A young Pre-Operational child name Bobby will know that he has a brother and that his brother name is Tom, but when asked if Tom has a brother Bobby reply ‘NO’. 



The child will begin to learn to use language, he/she will represent objects by images and words. At sub-stage 1 of Pre-operational the child has difficulty taking the viewpoint of others and to classify objects by a single feature. For example children are likely to group together all red blocks regardless of shape or all square blocks regardless of colours. If you were to instruct the child to group all round blue blocks together, don’t expect the child at this early stage to understand your instructions.  



Most children age 3 will have limited language skills but parents can test the child’s understanding by asking the child to arrange pictures to tell a story. Ask the child to identify what part of the story is missing. There are some great storytelling games on the market to choose from. 



At the beginning of the second sub-stage (age 4 – 7 years) the child’s thinking is limited to big, biggest, and at first he/she is likely to have difficulties understanding bigger and stronger than. During the early months of sub-stage 2, parents should expect the child to be able to put all red apples or green apples together but young children are still unlikely to grasp the concept of all big apples. Young children will also assume that all women have children and all men will be Daddies.  


LANGUAGE (Books and Audio Toys)

The child is expected to develop more elaborate language skills during the latter part of sub-stage 2. Books to encourage children to read and develop a wider vocabulary and audio toys to aid listening and comprehension are great ways to help children in their intellectual development.


The Pirates Classic action board game supports Pre-Operational children speech development. The board game with Pirate Pete is designed for children age 4 – 8, and is for boys, girls and parents. Children and adults have a fascination for Pirates, I know that I am intrigued. My first book titled ‘Pirate City’ is clearly a story about piracy. The Pirates Classic action Board Game offers parents/carers and children lots of fun, the game promotes not only language skills but also decision making skills. You can find out about the Pirates Classic Children’s board game at


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QUESTION: If you have a question about Piaget’s Pre-Operational stage of intellectual developmental or any of the other stages, then do get in touch.

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Morel Benard at Study Coach UK (Educator/Storyteller/Spoken Word Artist)


Thank you for all your help, you have built my confidence.

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