Shop strives to make learning fun for children
Set on introducing children to games that can be both entertaining and instructional, Dean Shaikh's mission for Katy Educational Toys is to go beyond the traditional board game. Although he sells some familiar family games, Shaikh's focuses on how to introduce toys that stimulate children's imagination and help them better understand subjects and concepts such as math, English and problem solving.
"Many of the games are helpful in teaching the children interpersonal communication skills," said Elizabeth Shaikh, Dean's wife and teacher at Katy ISD. "They teach them how to get along with other people, and also help them apply skills they learn in school."
Dean opened the store at 2004 S. Mason Road in 2008, he said, after calling it quits from managing several CVS stores. He said he saw a need for an educational games and toy store in the Katy area, and since opening it has garnered a steady following of local teachers and parents.
The store has a working partnership with six KISD elementary schools where students are given a $5 gift certificate to the store toward a toy of their choosing, and Dean said he occasionally also provides other promotions and offers.
Personable customer service and the ability to try out demo toys set out in the store distinguishes his store from big-box competitors, Dean said. He also takes recommendations and suggestions from customers looking for specific toys or games for their children.
"A lot of times parents don't know how to teach their kids certain things, like chess," he said. "So we sell a solitaire version of it so the child can play and still learn on their own. We also sell a lot of math, English, strategy and some party games that are good even for adults."
When new games come in, he said, they are usually placed on display and opened so customers can take advantage of an in-store trial run before purchasing. The Shaikhs also make a point to try games out themselves before purchasing large orders and putting them in the store.
The end goal for Dean is to help students who are struggling with particular subjects and may require a different form of instruction. He said many of his customers are teachers looking for new games to incorporate into their lesson plans. The store also features work books and children's books.
"Dean [sees] value in playing and engaging the imagination, which is what we both did with our daughter," Elizabeth said. "We were always playing games with her. If you make things fun, children are more apt to engage."
How they learn
Researchers from the Department of Human Development at Cornell University compiled tips for parents and teachers to help them better understand how children learn.
Provide a stimulating environment with plenty of opportunities for supportive social interaction and let children play.
Choose toys that encourage children to explore their physical world and to play with others.
Engage in play with young children that involves different outcomes, such as dropping a soft ball on a hard surface and then throwing a hard ball on the hard surface, and letting them observe different actions.
Explain different ways of achieving similar outcome to children, such as how to get playing blocks to touch each other either by stacking or laying them down.
Katy Educational Toys, 2004 S. Mason Road, Katy, 281-574-6997, katyeducationaltoys.com
- Tues.–Fri.: 10:30 a.m.–7 p.m.
- Sat.:10:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
- Sun.: Noon–5 p.m.
- Closed Mondays.