Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Benefits of Blocks

There are so many flashy and loud toys around these days, why would parents ever settle for plain old blocks? They seem so boring compared to all the other options out there. Studies have shown that playing with blocks has many benefits for children including physical, social, intellectual, and language development.
Physical Benefits
· This seems to be the most obvious benefit of playing with blocks. It allows children to develop and improve both large and fine motor skills. As they reach for, lift, move and build the blocks it strengthens their fingers, hands, and arms as well as assist in developing hand-eye coordination which is a much needed skill. Around the age of two, children begin to understand which shapes will fit where. This gives them a head start on understanding perspectives which are the beginning skills that allows them to read maps and follow directions later in life.
Creative Benefits
· 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 make their own design as well as give them the satisfaction of creating something on their own that did not exists before. 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. Once they get the hang of building blocks they will take their creativity to the next level and will implement their stricter in pretend-play. This could include using small toy figurines or themselves as life-sized actors. In both setting the sky is the limit as they use their imaginations to build and play.
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 constructions projects. Working together in this manner has also shown that they form higher quality friendships. As toy cars and people are added, the group creates miniature worlds which allow them to learn about their social world as they act things out with the little figurines. This provides them with an opportunity to explore emotions as well as helping them make sense of what they see adults do.
Intellectual Benefits
· As children play with blocks they are learning all kinds of things! Blocks encourage children to count, match, sort, group, add and subtract. Playing with blocks help children develop their vocabularies, improves math skills, and even teaches them about gravity, balance, and geometry. They learn how to describe colors, shapes, sizes and positions as they build various structures.
These are just a few of the benefits of playing with blocks. Studies are still being done and they are continuing to find more and more reasons why we should encourage block play. So forget the toys with all the bells and whistles and go buy your child some blocks. It will not only be fun for them, but will have huge benefits on many aspects of their development.



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