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Spring and Summer with the Kids -- What Parents Need to Consider

By Jo Loving Gann

Childs Play Newsletter

June 1999

Winter is over and we are in the midst of Spring, with Summer not far behind. Children, naturally curious about their worlds, are able to spend more time out-of-doors. How, as a parent, can you best make the transition from cool-weather activities? To get the answer, I caught up with the very busy Dr. Stevanne Auerbach, also known as Dr. Toy, a highly regarded child development and play expert, author of several books, and syndicated columnist. Dr. Toy has written a number of books and articles, and compiled lists of recommended products for children, including "Best Classic Toys 1999," "Dr. Toy's Best 100 Children's Products, 1999" and "Dr. Toy's Best Vacation Products 1998." These lists are helpful in selecting toys that are appropriate by age group, price, and manufacturer.. She is dedicated to education, quality, and lasting value as key criteria in selecting toys for her lists, and it shows in the toys she recommends. She is the author of the best-selling Dr. Toy's Smart Play: How to Raise a Child with a High PQ* (Play Quotient), St. Martin's Press, 1998.

When I asked about the considerations a parent should make in the transition between the winter and the warmer seasons, Dr. Toy replied that it is "good for children to play out of doors every day in every season. There should be a natural flow from in and outside. The red wagon is always fun to pull along items to play with in the park - balls, sand pail and shovel, jump rope, and even a hula hoop. Taking a long pad and pens for sketching can be a good way for a child to explore observations out of doors and at the park. Reading is always fun under a tree. Take time to find the activities that are right for each season - for example, gathering fallen leaves in the fall to trace and paste on paper helps a child understand the changing seasons."

With the warm weather and end of the school year, many families plan their annual vacation. What should parents think about when vacationing with children? Dr. Toy has compiled a list of recommended Vacation Toys at her web site. In addition, her book provides important items for parents to consider when planning the family vacation. Among her recommendations: check with the hotel about facilities and activities for children; involve the childrenin your vacation planning, and use a map as a visual tool. She also advises parents to prepare a "Travel Play Bag." This bag, which can be a backpack, bag or tote, should include items such as art supplies, games, books, and story cassettes.

Dr. Toy's web site ( also provides additional information for parents regarding play, toy selection, and advice. For additional information, . If you wish to write to Dr. Toy for a list of best products, include a self-addressed, stamped #10 envelope, and mail to: Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D./Dr. Toy, 268 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94104.

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