Why Playing With Blocks Is Important
Importance of playing with blocks
The importance of block play is widely recognised by early years educators. So what is it that makes block play so beneficial for children?
Playing with blocks promotes development in so many areas.
On a very obvious physical level children are developing fine and gross motor skills. Block play helps develop these skills. They have to practise gripping and precisely placing building blocks in order to get them to stack, and the higher the tower the more dextrous they need to be. Plus children will develop their gross motor skills and spatial awareness as they squat and crouch or reach up high, all while trying not to knock the blocks until they are ready.
Beyond physical development, children are developing their problem-solving skills, learning mathematical concepts, developing language skills, being creative and even building self-esteem, all through playing with building blocks.
Block play is open-ended and creative, it can be a solo or a group activity, and it promotes skills that can be built upon as children grow. Research has shown that playing with building blocks promotes vital cognitive development that leads to success in mathematics and numbers.
The fact is that children learn through play. The quality of play and the skills they develop in their early years has a huge impact on their success in school and later in life.
For example if children don’t learn to grip and manipulate small objects with their fingers they will struggle to hold a pencil and learn to write. And if they don’t learn to problem solve and hypothesise they will struggle later with maths and science problems. So play really is of vital importance.
Develops problem solving skills
The simple act of placing one block on top of another isn’t simple at all until you’ve figured out how it works. And as their abilities increase so does the complexity of the problems they are trying to solve.
Encourages creativity and the imagination
Building blocks are a classic open-ended toy, you start with a few wooden shapes and you can build almost anything. Blocks can be used to build a tower for a princess, a farm or zoo for animals, a bridge for cars and so many other things.
Helps children understand continuity, permanence and mathematics
Playing with blocks is a wonderful way for children to start understanding basic concepts such as continuity and permanence. A block is a solid object that can be used to build a tower that stands until you knock it down, a lesson in cause and effect and the effects of gravity.
Children can also learn to count using their blocks and develop an understanding of size, shape, measurement, comparison, symmetry and balance.
Encourages self-esteem, self-expression and emotional growth
Making a tower as tall as you are is a massive achievement when you’re a toddler and gives a big boost to their self-esteem, but block play can also be frustrating and teach other valuable emotional skills such as disappointment when your tower gets knocked over, or frustration that you can’t make the creation you imagined in your head.
Next Up: What Are the Benefits of Block Play?