Sun, 15 Jun 2003

Educational toys encourage children to learn

Sudibyo M. Wiradji, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Educational toys are becoming increasingly popular in Indonesia as more parents are aware that such toys are closely related to the childhood learning process. Educational toys help children to have fun while they learn.

"More parents these days seek toys with educational aspects and, therefore, our toy stores have a special corner for what we call 'edutainment' products, which combine education and entertainment," said Irawati, advertising & promotion manager of Fashion & Kidz Division.

Normally, safety is one of the big concerns when a parent is purchasing an educational toy. The size of the pieces, their fragility and the toxicity of the materials used are all points to consider. Despite the wide variety of materials used to make toys, like wood, rubber, metal, faux fur and plastic, most toy stores are selective in choosing the toys they stock.

Supermarkets, malls and plazas in big cities mostly have a special counter selling such kinds of toys. But if you want to find a more complete selection of educational toys, then you can visit Kidz Station, Toys 'R' Us or in Matahari Department Store.

Kidz Station outlets can be found in shopping centers and malls in nine cities in Indonesia. Major Kidz Station outlets in Jakarta include the ones in Plaza Senayan Mall, Pondok Indah Mall, Plaza Indonesia, Lippo Karawaci, Sunter Mall and Kelapa Gading Mall.

The stores carry action figures, toy sets, collectibles and popular remote and radio-controlled cars. Barbie dolls, still the rage among Indonesian girls, come with many accessories, dresses and in different ethnic representations. Bratz dolls, with a funkier and more fashionable look, are getting popular among girls.

There are also kitchen sets and other toys for girls to "play house". For boys there are model cars, action figures, countless computer games, and Digimon school supplies. You can also find such increasingly trendy toys as Crush Gear Battle Robots and B- Daman, all intended for boys.

Many toy products are also specially designed for infants of different ages. For infants aged three or above, there are toys designed to help them increase their senses of touch. The products are made of a variety of materials safe for infants. For six-year old children, you can find toys equipped with mirrors made of safe material to help them learn see themselves at an earlier age and increase the awareness of their own identity.

Under-fives generally love toys that provide an introduction to colors and shapes, and sounds that fuel their curiosity, such as Rattles and Baby Walker Books. By the time they are toddlers, they will enjoy conventional toys such as dolls, toy cars, simple arts and crafts, and games.

A visit to a Kidz Station "edutainment" corner will allow you to find a wide selection of "edutainment" products best suited to the child's gender and age. The toys help stimulate intelligence, imagination and creativity, ranging from crayons, coloring pencils, block puzzles and even a special computer through which children may learn a foreign language, memorize the alphabet, learn how to count, and practice recognizing different sounds.

"Kidz Station is fully aware of the importance of providing education for Indonesian children at an earlier age," said Irawati,

The toys are displayed by product category, such as "Edutainment" Corner, Barbie Corner, TV Action Hero Corner and Fashion Avenue Corner. At TV Action Hero Corner, for instance, you can find a wide range of figures featuring film heroes like Superman, Batman and Spiderman.

Prices for toys at Kidz Station range from Rp3,000 to millions of rupiah, depending on the kind of toy and its quality, size, what it is made of, and brand.

Boasting a one-stop children's shop, Kidz Station also stocks children's clothing, shoes, books, bags and snacks. "Most of our books for children are originals because we place quality as our top priority," Irawati said.

Another comprehensive toy store in town is Toys 'R' Us. The US-based toy store has branch stores in Puri Indah Mall on Jl. Puri Agung, Puri Indah, and at Pasaraya department store in Blok M.

These toy stores provide a wide range of all shapes and sizes for your children, whatever their interest and whatever their ages. For baby, there are a variety of rattles that will fuel their curiosity.

With its 'Making Learning Fun' concept, Toys 'R' Us provides products emphasizing creativity, education and fun for children. If you want to find toys that inspire creativity in children, for instance, you can take a look at their wide range of puzzles, finger paints, and other arts and crafts essentials, as well as the perennial craft clay, Play-Doh.

At Toys 'R' Us, you can also find other kids' stuff, including clothes for infants and toddlers, bicycles, stilts, picture books, videos of children's programs, cuddly toys and even hair clips.

Like Kidz Station and Toys 'R' Us, Matahari outlet in Pluit, North Jakarta, also provides a wide selection of educational toys. They include puzzle balls, foam puzzles, picture puzzles and block builders.

The outlet features 'Children World' corner where parents cannot only find toys for their beloved children but also other stuffs such as shoes, clothes, bags and books. "The 'Children World' corner is also completed with kids playing arena where children can have a fun," said Matahari Putra Prima's public relations manager Sasha said.