Toys & Books / 3 October, 2023 / Ellie Thompson
All parents know that playtime is essential for their child’s growth and development, but did you ever think that toy trains could hold the key to enhancing your little one’s social and cognitive skills?
Mattel, Inc. has teamed up with the beloved Thomas & Friends brand to explore the benefits of train play for children. Dr. Salim Hashmi, a renowned children’s play expert from King’s College London, led an extensive research effort, delving into over 1,600 scientific research papers to unveil the positive impact of playing with toy trains. This groundbreaking study has culminated in a compelling white paper, shedding light on the huge developmental advantages train play can offer children of all ages.
Dr. Hashmi’s research reveals that playing with toy trains can be a catalyst for cognitive and social development in children. Through this form of play, children can learn and practise vital skills such as collaboration, cooperation, and social understanding. They can construct tracks, arrange train cars, envision scenarios, and bring them to life during train play, stimulating cognitive development and enhancing critical thinking, spatial analysis, and decision-making skills. Collaborative play with toy trains fosters teamwork and negotiation skills as children share resources and ideas and engage together in play.
Here’s a closer look at the potential benefits of train play for children’s development identified by Dr. Hashmi:
Playing with toy trains allows children to develop social skills such as collaboration, cooperation, sharing, and working together towards common goals.
Train play cultivates collaboration and cooperation skills as children work together to build and organise tracks and decide how to play. It fosters teamwork, effective communication, shared responsibilities, and the negotiation of ideas.
Playing with toy trains encourages children to develop key thinking skills. As they plan their play, construct and organise tracks, and engage in imaginative scenarios, they’re busy fostering problem-solving abilities and creative thinking.
Kelly Philp, Senior Director of Marketing at Mattel, says: “The Thomas & Friends brand recognises the transformative power imaginative playtime has on our little ones. As children embark on adventures with their toy trains, they not only engage in creativity but also develop essential life skills. Through these miniature worlds, young minds learn to navigate challenges, devise solutions, and embrace the joys of discovery while having lots of fun!”
Dr. Hashmi conducted a systematic search of over 1,600 scientific research papers to investigate the benefits of train play. This in-depth analysis examined various aspects of playing with toy trains and the potential advantages for children. The research involved children from diverse backgrounds, socio-demographics, and age groups, shedding light on the broad-reaching benefits of train play.
In a world where imaginative play is fundamental to childhood development, the Thomas & Friends brand recognises the transformative power that train playtime has on our little ones. As children embark on adventures with their toy trains, they not only engage in creativity but also develop essential life skills. Through these miniature worlds, young minds learn to navigate challenges, come up with solutions, all while having lots of fun!
Dr. Hashmi is in the process of submitting the white paper to the International Journal of Play for peer review, ensuring that this groundbreaking research will be recognised and validated by experts in the field. So, parents, it’s time to celebrate the wonders of train play and its positive impact on our children’s growth and development. All aboard for a brighter future!