With so many flashy, battery-powered, screen and e-linked toys around these days, one cannot help but wonder if there are still any benefits to the traditional wooden or plastic building blocks! You will be pleased to know that these old fashioned toys are still beneficial for children today –cognitively, physically and even socially! And nowadays they come in various shapes, sizes, colors and materials, all aimed at achieving a common goal.
My three year old son and eight year old daughter both enjoy playing with building blocks (yes, even at 8yrs she is still enjoying!) The girl is obviously at a more advanced stage in her interaction with building blocks and often tells elaborate stories through the things she constructs. The boy, on the other hand, is at the stage of emulation where he likes constructing things like a bike, a robot, a Buzz Lightyear, a car and…the list goes on. His color coordination and pre-mathematical skills are honing in quite nicely through this traditional tried and tested activity.
Here are a few reasons why traditional building blocks or construction toys are still very important for Early Childhood Development.
- Physical Benefit – Building blocks allow children to develop and improve both their gross and fine motor skills. As they reach for, lift, move, maneuver and build the blocks, they strengthen their fingers, hands and arms, while developing hand-eye coordination
- Creative Benefit – Playing with blocks gives the child an opportunity to be creative as there are no limits to what they can build. It allows them to create on their own either by emulating or imagining. This activity is ALWAYS accompanied by a sense of accomplishment and pride in a child – which is a necessary ingredient for boosting a child’s confidence. My children almost always come and show me what they have built and I often reciprocate to share in their enthusiasm.
- Problem solving benefit – As they build and experiment with the different types of blocks they are also enhancing their problem solving skills; they learn firsthand what will and will not work. They develop skills in design, representation, balance and stability
- Social Benefits – Block play encourages children to make friends and cooperate with one another. It encourages interaction and imagination as they strive together to solve problems. Research even suggests that kids become friendlier and more socially-savvy when they work on cooperative construction projects
- Development of Mathematical Skills – Blocks encourage children to count, match, sort, and group, add and remove thus developing early numeracy skills. Their spacial and mathematics skills are also developed through another approach to building blocks known as structured play. Parental involvement is needed and helpful for structured play.
Huge strides have since been taken in the designing of construction toys, as seen in Lego Robotics, but these traditional educational toys still play a very important role in Early Childhood Education.