Blocks are one of the most famous traditional toys for young children. They come in different forms, sizes, and textures, and it’s no wonder why children are so drawn to them!
From the famous LEGO to the simple wood blocks, your child is sure to find plenty of ways to sort, stack, and construct different structures out of their various shapes and designs. Building blocks for kids may appear fun and pleasurable, but what exactly makes them so beneficial for children to play with?
In this article, we’re going to cover the benefits of block play for toddlers and young children.
Why are building blocks important for toddlers?
Toddlerhood is a critical stage for a child’s development. Beginning the age of 1, toddlers gain more muscle control and balance as they start walking and exploring the environment on their own.
As we know, one of the best ways toddlers learn is through play. This is why parents need to carefully choose what toys to give to their kids during this time.
One of the most popular educational toys for toddlers are blocks. Though playing these tiny pieces of toys can add up clutter to your home, they can entertain your toddlers and hone various aspects of their development.
The benefits of block play for toddlers include:
Enhanced motor skills
Toddlers practice their gross motor skills as they stretch, crawl, or move around their play area to reach the pieces of blocks. As they grasp, pick, or interlock the blocks using their hands and fingers, toddlers develop their fine motor skills which they need to successfully perform future tasks like writing, drawing, and eating.
When toddlers play with building blocks, it gives them an opportunity to exercise their senses. Blocks differ in their colors, shapes, textures, and weight which exposes children to new ideas and the uniqueness of various objects, depending on what they see and feel. They will also learn that like other solid things, blocks produce various sounds as they bump into each other or fall on the ground.
Building blocks practice the toddlers’ ability to keep their eye and hand movements coordinated. This skill involves the use of vision to guide and control the activities involving the hands, so that the desired outcome is met.
Block play provides plenty of chances to practice this skill, because the pieces of toys can be attached, detached, and interchanged to form the pattern that is most pleasing to the child’s eyes.
Learning cause and effect
When you give blocks to toddlers, they will soon discover the idea of cause and effect. For instance, when they stack the blocks higher, they will notice that it will soon fall. By remembering which patterns or positions work and which will not, toddlers are practicing their critical thinking skills at a very early age.
By playing with blocks, you child’s expressive language is also practiced more profoundly. A toddler’s vocabulary will tend to expand because they learn various words related to play like dump, stack, pile, short, tall, and balance.
Further language development can be encouraged by actively talking with your child while they play, sharing the ideas, and explaining things to them.
In one study that was funded by MegaBlocks, children aged 1.5 to 2.5 years old who were regularly playing blocks were found to spend more time talking to their parents. This was perceived to contribute to their language and vocabulary competence.
Additionally, these children are reportedly watching the television less frequently, which makes it a good way to limit screen time for young children.
While toddlers build simple structures, they feel a sense of accomplishment that adds up to their self-esteem. Self-esteem during the early childhood years is essential for them to effectively communicate and socialize with other children in the future.
Enhances creativity, and builds the imagination
Toddlers love imaginative and pretend play. Blocks for kids are not merely pieces of wood, foam, or plastic. They can be walls, castles, cars or anything that they wanted them to be.
Due to the advent of more complex toys and building structures (through companies such as Lego), children are able to push the limits of their imagination – taking abstract ideas and building them until they become a reality.
What are the benefits of playing with blocks in preschool?
The best thing about block play is that children won’t outgrow the toys for a couple of years to come. By the time they reach preschool, children may already be used to playing with blocks. However, this time, they are capable of more complex patterns, designs, and associations.
Here are a couple of benefits of playing with blocks in preschool:
Learning basic engineering concepts
Have you noticed that engineers build small-scale models of their proposed buildings? This is because they wanted to visualize the actual outcome of the pattern and seek the design that will work best for their project. Guess what? This concept of engineering is also practiced while playing blocks!
As young children play blocks, they develop basic building and construction skills. They learn how to follow the simple to more complex patterns as well as choose the best design in terms of stability and aesthetic appeal.
Introduction to scientific and mathematical ideas
Preschoolers start learning scientific concepts through block play. Some of these are the concepts of weight, gravity, cause and effect, balance, and comparisons.
Young children will also notice that objects have three-dimensional surfaces and learn about geometrical shapes like cones, cubes, and cylinders. Blocks will also introduce them to the basic mathematical ideas like addition and subtraction. Studies found that block play in early childhood is associated with better math performance in high school.
Understanding logical and spatial relations
As kids play, organize, and sort blocks, they’ll eventually learn logical and spatial relations. They begin to use words like beside, below, above, before, and after. Research shows that children who are exposed to blocks or construction play are more likely to perform better on spatial intelligence tests and activities in the future.
Social and interpersonal development
Children who are 4 to 5 years old are beginning to learn cooperative play, sharing their ideas, and building together with their peers. Studies show that with this type of play, they learn how to cooperate and form stronger friendships with other children.
Improves creativity and problem-solving skills
Preschool kids also tend to be more creative with their imaginative play and use accessories in addition to blocks. For example, they can use toy animals and blocks to make a zoo, or use a doll as the princess in their LEGO castle.
Moreover, blocks are can be a medium for divergent play. Divergent means that there are lots of ways to solve a problem or follow a pattern. This type of play boosts critical thinking skills and encourages young children to find their own way of solving problems.
Block play may appear basic at first glance, but they provides plenty of learning opportunities for toddlers and young children. In this world where technology entices many children, sparing a regular time when kids can play blocks is sure to have a great impact on their personal, social, and emotional development.