Ages 6 and Up?
I spent my weekend doing some Christmas shopping. There are a few children on my list. Some of them are extremely gifted. This raises the question that I'm sure many parents on this blog have encountered. What on earth do the age guidelines on toys mean when it comes to developmentally advanced kids?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates these little "Ages 9 through 12" messages found on toy boxes. If you want to read their reasoning on the different categories, you can find the PDF file here. The CPSC chooses the guidelines based on many different criteria. Some, such as motor control and choking hazards, apply to most kids. Others, such as complexity, role-playing, strategizing and other things, can lead to the same problems if you follow the guidelines as you get by putting a highly gifted 8-year-old in a regular 3rd grade classroom. Once, I was considering a toy labeled for 3-5 year olds that said it would help a kid learn her letters in a fun way. The 4-year-old in question, though, was already reading whole books and writing stories. If I'd chosen the alphabet game, she probably would have just made a castle out of the box (not that she wouldn't anyway... 5-7 year olds can really get into creative role-playing, and so do gifted 4-year-olds).
I'm curious how people get around this. How do you choose toys for bright toddlers that don't have small parts, but still involve a reasonable level of complexity? How do you choose toys for gifted preschoolers that don't involve high levels of motor control, but also won't bore the kid? Are there any particular toys you'd recommend for shoppers facing these dilemmas? We still have a few shopping days left...