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Can Dinosaur Toys Enhance Your Child's Intelligence?
- Lisa Lambourn
We have just read an article about dinosaur obsession and intelligence and being a little obsessed with dinosaur toys ourselves were intrigued with the link between children's obsessions and their intelligence.
The article which started our interest is here and you can also see it on our Facebook page.
When we are at shows with our knitted dinosaurs many children will come up to our stand, pick up a dinosaur and start chatting. We have been astounded by the information that has been shared with us. Tiny children will come up to us and confidently reel off long lists of dinosaurs and be able to talk quite eloquently about their favourite dinosaur. They will then share all sorts of facts such as how much each dinosaur weighs, how big they were and when they lived. Long complex Latin names trip off the tongues of young children without any hesitation. Over the years we have been amazed by kids and their ability to take in huge volumes of information which can be recited without a second's hesitation, yet their parents may struggle to name half a dozen dinosaurs.
The article shared above was inspired by the story of 10 year old Charlie Edwards who in 2017 believed there was a mistake on a dinosaur display at the Natural History Museum & brought this to the museum's attention. Initially his parent's doubted he could know more than the experts until he received the following letter:
When my son was a toddler he developed an intense interest in diggers. He had a ride-on digger, toy diggers, digger pyjamas, a yellow hard hat, a JCB coat and sweatshirt and would only want to play diggers - so when his friends came around the compromise was for his diggers to play with his friend's dinosaur toys. We had a birthday with a 'digger cake' - at least it was a digger cake if you used your imagination! We had digger story books and were put under pressure to stop and watch builders at work if a digger was involved. For a year or so, diggers definitely became a bit of an obsession that seemed all consuming at the time but now I cannot quite remember when or how it finished.
Scientists have discovered that almost one third of children have an obsession like this, usually between the ages of 2 and 6. These intense interests usually emerge without any particular encouragement from parents and can stay for relatively long periods of time (in childhood terms) and are often evident to others, not just the parents. Many parents may worry that these obsessions are unhealthy and that children should have a different interests and play with a wide range of toys. So is it a problem if your child is obsessed with dinosaurs, birds, the stars, cars or perhaps train sets?
Psychologists call these 'intense interests' and have studied the effects they can have on development. When a young child is obsessed with dinosaurs for example, they can dedicate hours to their dinosaurs. Playing with their dinosaur toys, reading or listening to books being read about them, drawing dinosaurs, watching television programs about dinosaurs and so on.
So what do all of these activities have to do with 'intelligence'? According the Oxford Dictionary, intelligence is 'the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills'. So when your child is watching factual programs, reading books or drawing dinosaurs, they are probably developing their attention spans, improving their thinking skills and perseverance. They may be looking for information independently and asking questions - both of these are skills that will be great when they enter the education system and also in their later working life when they face new situations or problems. So an obsession for dinosaurs, or trains or diggers can help your child to develop a thirst for knowledge, to become an independent learner early in life and help them to develop their thinking skills.
So next time you are wondering whether to discourage your child from their obsessions such as dinosaurs, it seems that experts believe that they are healthy and help your child's development. Like my son's digger obsession, it will probably come to a natural end and you may even not notice at first as obsessions usually fade away gradually. I have only met one adult who is still obsessed with paleontology but over the years we have met many, many toddlers and young children who love their dinosaurs!