What Are the Benefits of Block Play?
Benefits of Block Play for Babies, Toddlers and Children
Block play is something that every child is likely to experience either at home, in a child care setting or at school.
This could be anything from simple wooden blocks when they are just a few months old, to much more complex building blocks such as lego that can be used to build incredible creations and offer a challenge to adults let alone children.
As parents and caregivers we should be actively encouraging this type of play as it has so many developmental benefits that just arenít found in the same way in other toys.
The Benefits of Playing with Blocks for Babies
From the time they are first interested and able to grab at toys blocks offer excellent opportunities for learning.
Babies develop hand-eye coordination by grabbing at the blocks and later learning to stack them one on top of the other. This also requires fine motor skills, dexterity and their first foray into problem-solving.
Babies are also learning about cause and effect as they bash their blocks together to make a sound or bash into their blocks to knock them down, as well as concepts of permanence and continuity.
As babies grow into toddlers the towers get taller and the opportunities for learning increase.
Cognitive Development in Every Area
Now the problems they are solving get more complex and concepts such as shape, size, symmetry, balance and comparison come into play.
And learning is not limited to basic maths and science. Toddlers will improve their vocabulary as you talk together about what they are doing, learning the names of the different shapes, the colours, and words to describe whatever it is that they are building.
Creativity and Imaginative Play
The flexibility of block play is also an important factor in the benefits it provides. Building blocks are the ultimate open-ended toy, and even when they get older and start buying complex lego sets they can still be pulled apart and made into pretty much anything.
This opportunity for creativity and imagination is a key benefit of block play and one that can be encouraged for years. The blocks tend to get smaller and the structures more complex but the basic principles remain the same no matter what the age of your child. And the best part is that children who have developed those skills when they are younger will be master builders when they are older.
Social and Emotional Development
You might not think it but playing with blocks can also have social and emotional benefits for children.
At an individual level children learn to concentrate, they learn about frustration and they learn to be resilient. Plus, when they build their epic tower or put together their first solo build they get a great self-confidence boost which can be particularly beneficial for children with low self-esteem.
Blocks are also something that can be utilised for group play, and will often be used in this way in child care settings. When playing together with blocks children may start by playing alongside each other, having to learn to share resources, and move onto collaborative projects that require teamwork and negotiation skills.
Who would have thought there could be so many benefits to be derived from such a seemingly simple toy.
Next Up: What Are the Stages of Block Play?