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Raising smart girls: start early with toys

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Have you ever noticed that the toys marketed for young girls emphasize beauty, fashion, motherhood, and household chores while those designed for boys focus on skills and intelligence.

Girl toys. Take a moment to think about it. You’ll notice glamorous, anorexic dolls with big breast and a fully stocked wardrobe, kiddie cosmetics, and plastic tea party sets fill the store shelves waiting for little girls to demand them for birthday presents and holiday gifts. And what parent could resist? Most homes with young girls are filled with stereotypical toys that remind girls to look pretty, dress in fashion and learn to play hostess.

Boy toys. Boys’ toys on the other hand motivate the mind or develop physical skills. Telescopes, microscopes, tool sets, and model airplanes to build are marketed for boys. Boys are expected to become the doctors, scientists, engineers and architects of the nation. And although boys grow up to become fathers, no one is filling their bedrooms with make-believe babies so they can ‘pretend’ to be a daddy.

Smart toys. Instead of focusing on toys that reinforce outdated gender-role stereotypes, it's time for parents to prepare their girls for the real world. Raise smart girls by giving them toys that reinforce intelligence. Math games and science kits are a great place to start.

Good-bye Prince Charming. It may be difficult for some moms and dads to resist turning their little girl into a magical princess with a pink laced gown and silver crown. Unfortunately, prince charming isn't coming on a white horse to give her the life of her dreams. Girls need to be smart and have the skills necessary to create a successful career and life of their own.

Smart Women. Girls benefit tremendously from learning about non-traditional career options beginning at the preschool years. They need to be exposed to female engineers and taught about women astronauts. Waiting until they are preteens obsessed with fashion and beauty after years of dreaming to be Barbie is almost too late.

Did you ever wonder why so many female engineers and scientists are of Asian descent? Try taking a look at the types of toys given to children, especially girls. While most Americans are shopping for the newest dolls, parents determined to raise smart girls are buying miniature microscopes.

Raising smart girls means buying smart toys; it really does make a difference!

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