Column by Melinda S. Norris, Certified Leadership Parenting Coach

From the day your child was born, you wanted to do what was best for him or her, right?  So you stress over preschool, you stress over after school activities, you stress over broadening his horizons.  You stress over everything!  Parenting was not meant to be stressful, and if that is what you feel most of the time, you are doing it wrong.  Okay, take a deep breath, and relax.  We all want our children to be the best that they can be, but any fancy pre-schooling you provide pretty much balances out with everyone else by the third grade.  What should you do then?  Well, among other things, know your child.  How old is he?  What developmental milestones has he passed?  What milestones are in the near future?  Plan activities and purchase toys based on this information.  Read on to see the best toys to buy and general guidelines for a happy brain building environment at home.

The Best Toys in the World!


Cooking utensils


Nesting toys

Stacking toys

Dumping toys

Pouring toys

Items to sort

Pretend play items

Wooden blocks


If you can only afford one toy in your child’s life, make it wooden blocks.  Blocks teach math, space, physics, symmetry, proportion, balance, stability, and gravity.  Ask yourself:  Are toys manipulative, challenging, interesting, not overwhelming, invite active participation, just within reach on low, open shelves, and are not electronic?

Create a Brain Building Environment at Home:

  • Good nutrition…breast feed!
  • Read aloud often.
  • Encourage exploration.
  • Provide toys that require you to figure something out.
  • Play word games like tastes like, looks like, if then…
  • Eliminate/limit TV.
  • Encourage activities that require large to small muscle movement.
  • Challenge facts and ask open ended questions.

Bring God into your child’s life:

  • Read faith filled books
  • Invest in plastic animals and create an ark (sort, pair, pretend, build, dump…).
  • Bible Programs
  • Use bible studies to encourage movement (David and his slingshot).
  • Get into some age appropriate apologetics to increase the chances that your child STAYS in church.


Piaget said “Stop worrying about how fast we can make intelligence grow, and concentrate on how far.”


Melinda Norris has a BAIS from USC in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Child Sociology.  She is a Certified Leadership Parenting Coach. She is a part of John Rosemond’s parenting website which is the largest advice bank in the country.  She is in the middle of earning a Masters of Education in Counseling with a concentration in Higher Education Student Affairs.  She currently works in the Student Academic Center at the Citadel advising students.  

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The Church at Riverland Terrace

Sean Rheaume

Family Pastor at James Island Baptist Church

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