What is “Innovative” early intervention?
Probably not what most people would expect! When we hear “innovative,” we may often think new or cutting-edge (like technology). Some synonyms for “innovative” are original, unusual, inventive. Common objects and traditional/original toys (those which do not require batteries or chargers) are actually much more innovative than the newer trends of electronic toys.
There are countless inventive, unusual, creative, and innovative ways to play with old-school toys like blocks or a box (see HERE for some examples). Dissimilarly, using electronic toys or Apps in a wide variety of creative and imaginative ways may be challenging for parents and their young children. That’s because these gadgets are typically designed to be played in a very specific way, which rarely leads to exploration, creativity, imagination, or symbolic play (e.g. pretending a block is a hat). Symbolic play and pretend play are very important and fairly easy to do with common objects and traditional toys (but not so much with tech-toys). Click HERE for more information about why speech therapists care so much about pretend play.
Don’t just take my word for it! HERE are some relevant research findings.
For tips on how to choose toys, I like THIS handout.
There is another fairly common misconception that Apps and so-called “educational” videos are effective learning tools for very young children. Unfortunately these misleading claims are usually made by large, multimillion dollar marketing companies (which rely on endorsements for their sales, instead of solid evidence). Scientific research consistently finds that young children show more robust learning and better retention when they are interacting with real people and using real objects (compared to learning from a screen). Until about 3 years of age, it is very challenging for children to transfer anything they learn from 2D media into their 3D lives!
Wanting a few innovative play ideas that will hopefully inspire your own creativity? Here are a couple snippets of my own ideas.