Blocks are a powerful learning toy they offer a variety of benefits to help your child develop. Block building, in particular, offers a potential route to studying and improving these skills in children prior to formal mathematics instruction. Studies suggest that toy blocks can help children develop
- spatial thinking
- motor skills and hand-eye coordination,
- cognitive flexibility,
- language skills,
- a capacity for creative,
- divergent thinking,
- social competence, and
- engineering skills.
Let's take a deeper look and see how each of these skills are able to benefit your child.
Spatial thinking or mentally manipulating information about the structure of the shapes and spaces in one's environment, may be crucial for developing skills that support later science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning. Research shows that spatial skills are malleable and that early experiences like block building in 4- to 6-year-olds and puzzle play in 2- to 4-year-olds can alter spatial thinking. Complex mathematical problem solving also rests on spatial skills and early links between spatial and mathematics skills have been established .
Cognitive flexibility has been described as the mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. Kids who'd participated in structured block play showed improvements in cognitive flexibility, and this was especially true for children from families of lower socioeconomic status .
Block play seems to also help build language skills. In a study sponsored by Mega Bloks, found that kid who played with blocks had scored higher on parent-reported tests of vocabulary, grammar, and verbal comprehension, and showed a non-significant trend towards watching less TV.
Blocks promote creativity and allow them to fully use their imagination. According to Charlotte Reznik, PhD, child educational psychologist and associate clinical professor of psychology at UCLA, there are numerous benefits from tapping into child’s imagination, such as: it strengthens bonds between parents and children; it is a safe way to talk about challenges with friends or school; it provides the relief from boredom; it teaches coping skills to deal with fear, low self esteem, loss and other emotions; it eases of physical symptoms such headaches and stomachaches.
Research suggests that kids become friendlier and more socially-savvy when they work on cooperative construction projects. For example, in studies of children with autism, kids who attended play group sessions with toy blocks made greater social improvements than did kids who were coached in the social use of language (Owens et al 2008; Legoff and Sherman 2006). And research on normally-developing kids suggests that kids who work on cooperative projects form higher-quality friendships (Roseth et al 2009).
It's easy to see how blocks can help build your future engineer. Many studies also suggest that students learn best about physical forces when they experience them first-hand (Hayes and Kraemer 2017). So if we want kids to develop an intuitive grasp of mechanical forces -- like the forces of tension and compression -- construction play offers excellent learning opportunities.
Block building, offers a potential route to studying and improving these skills in children. So get your child a set today.