Many early childhood educators believe that every classroom should have a full set of unit blocks, assorted props tied to children’s current interests and experiences, open storage shelves, and plenty of space and time to build and rebuild invented and familiar structures.
Also, blocks usually come in various sizes that can be stacked in many different arrangements. When a child puts two smaller blocks together he gets one bigger block to use – it is a fantastic way how to introduce the meaning of big and small, as well as half and whole. Matching, counting, sorting – these are just a few concepts taught in preschool and kindergarten, which you can continue teaching your child while playing!
All this supports the statement, that block play is very beneficial not only for physical, emotional and social development, but also for cognitive, as it includes symbolization and representation, directionality, the process of making comparisons, classification, following sequence and supports divergent thinking and logical reasoning.
The Benefits of Construction Play
But whatever form they take, blocks can function as powerful learning tools. Studies suggest that toy blocks can help children develop:
Problem solving. Sometimes it is intentional: “I want to build X. How do I do that?” Other times it is in-themoment: “To go higher and add to one side, what can I use?”
Imagination. Children can follow their own plan, or they can share a friend’s vision and work together to create something they never dreamed of.
Self-expression. Blocks offer many ways for young dual language learners to explore, express themselves, and demonstrate what they are learning across languages.
Mathematics. Important concepts and skills are practiced and strengthened through block play, including length, measurement, comparison, number, estimation, symmetry, balance.
Continuity and permanence. Block play engages spatial sense and motor abilities; it can be a solo or a group effort; block creations can stand for an indefinite period of time.
Creativity. Blocks and other loose parts can be moved freely by children, to be combined and recombined in countless ways.
Science. Blocks offer opportunities to test hypotheses and build scientific reasoning.
Self-esteem. Children discover that they have ideas and that they can bring their ideas to life by creating, transforming, demolishing, and re-creating something unique.
Social and emotional growth. Blocks help children learn to take turns and share materials, develop new friendships, become self-reliant, increase attention span, cooperate with others, and develop self-esteem.
Development in all areas. Block play requires fine and gross motor skills. Blocks enhance children’s problem-solving abilities, mathematics skills, and language and literacy abilities. And constructing “creations” builds self esteem and feelings of success.
As mentioned before, blocks can help develop child’s vocabulary and increase his/her understanding about labeling, sentence structure, spatial visualization, balance, symmetry, and even weight, height and gravity!
Yes, building blocks are simpler than the most of the toys in the shops, but do those toys can provide even a half of these benefits? Building is all about size, shape, weight, leverage, and balance, and as your child works this out, their building and block play will become more and more complex. As the complexity increases, so does their concentration level.
Psychologists and education specialists all agree – if a child learns new things through joyful, healthy play – he/she develops love of learning more easily, so why don’t you try? Or maybe you have? Then share your experience in comments and lets fall in love with block play all together!