How to build your child’s social skills

For children, social-emotional development is one of their most valuable aspects. Focus on toys for preschoolers that will build children’s empathy, communication skills and the ability to resolve conflicts and navigate challenges.

Here are a few ideas:

Experiential

A petting zoo can be a great place for kids to learn about compassion.

A puppet show might teach important lessons about making new friends or learning how to navigate challenges.

The gift of an experience will be an exciting life-long memory and a great opportunity for you to spend time together while kids hone important skills.

Locally, consider the Fever River Puppeteers, based in Hazel Green, Wis. (hazelgreenoperahouse.blogspot.com), or Dubuque’s Storybook Hill (www.cgim.com/storybookhillzoo/index.html).

Interactive

Those who want to help children learn important lessons might consider Zoonicorns.

Fun and engaging animated music videos, game apps, books and online activities capture children’s imaginations while offering parents and children an opportunity to work through and overcome obstacles together.

Kids can watch inspiring music videos, like “Yes, You Can!” on YouTube and play along with the soft and cuddly plush Zoonicorns, which are a combination of a unicorn and zebra.

The new Wish Me Zoonicorns by Jay@Play have four touch points where children can interact with them. When kids kiss the Zoonicorn on the nose, the horn glows, and kids can make a wish.

The animated videos stories focus on tools children can use to identify and solve problems through the comforting animal characters of the Zooniverse.

Board games

Playing age-appropriate card games and board games is a great way for kids to learn to follow rules, take turns, cooperate and be a good sport.

Card games such as Uno and Go Fish are great.

As for board games, think classics like Candyland, checkers and Chutes and Ladders, or go for newer games designed specifically to familiarize kids with letters, shapes, numbers and colors.

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